Early reports from residents of the Graywood, a single-room-occupancy (SRO) residence hotel at 29th and Mission, suggest that Saturday's five-alarm fire that displaced 58 people may have begun somewhere inside the hotel. The official investigation began Sunday, but the Chronicle spoke to at least one Graywood resident, Joe Williams, who went to inspect a circuit breaker box on the second floor after smelling something burning, and "smoke and fire shot out of the box" when he opened it.
While it is not uncommon for SRO's around the city to have multiple building code violations at any given time, the Graywood had a list of violations in its recent history. As Mission Local reports, the only one that remained unresolved at the time of the fire was a heating system that had been installed without a permit.
Mission Local also speaks with a number of the displaced, some of whom are staying in a temporary shelter set up by the Salvation Army, and they include a man who had recently emptied his bank account and was storing a large amount of cash in his home in preparation to pay a ransom to free kidnapped family members in Mexico.
The facade is all that's left of this building after fire in SF. 58 people displaced, no one allowed back in yet. pic.twitter.com/b6mTKxsrKv— Tiffany Wilson (@TWilsonTV) June 20, 2016
Incidentally, some may recall that the Graywood was the site of a gruesome 2004 murder in which 28-year-old Jan Erickson castrated and killed his 65-year-old father with a meat cleaver while high on crack, while other residents of the hotel listened to the father's cries for help.
Multiple businesses were wholly or partially damaged in the blaze. The beloved 3300 Club suffered mostly water damage and owner Shukry Lama tells the Chronicle that they're insured, suggesting the damage is fixable. Also closed are Cole Hardware, Playa Azul restaurant, El Gran Taco Loco, La Alteña, El Paisa, the cannabis dispensary Bernal Heights Collective, and the bar Coronitas.
Around the corner, The Front Porch barely escaped significant flooding from the firefight with the help of neighbors who piled sandbags around the entrance, as Mission Local reports.