Saturday’s four-alarm fire at Pier 45 damaged a quarter of the dock's structures, filling the clouds with smoke and blanketing nearby cars in ash. SF firefighters will continue monitoring the area for hot spots today and tomorrow, and fishing businesses are now reporting catastrophic losses.
The skies above San Francisco hazed early Saturday morning with not fog, but billows of dense smoke — so thick, in fact, some North Beach residents thought there was a wildfire nearby. Some 150 firefighters and 50 trucks, along with the use of other equipment like fireboats, managed to contain the blaze at Pier 45 by 6:15 a.m., leaving a sea of charred debris in the fire's wake. Because of its severity, San Francisco firefighters will stay on-site throughout the long weekend to monitor for hot spots — we managed to see them putting one out early last night — and continue the lengthy cleanup process. With the burning, for the most, now completely out, the affected fishing companies (and a few office spaces) now begin the sobering process of tallying up losses.
This is a crisis that, frankly, couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“Not that it would ever need this, but the seafood industry didn’t need this now,” said Kenny Belov, owner of the sustainable seafood wholesaler TwoXSea — located 50 feet from the warehouse where the fire began — to the Chronicle. “It’s surreal. We’ve obviously had a tough go the last couple months, with restaurants [closed do to the shelter-in-place order.] … Of all the problems in the world, this is not a big one. But it’s frustrating.”
Not only did Belov lose all of his scheduled Saturday and Sunday orders set to go out, but he’s also now worried a lengthy blackout may spoil the seafood he has stored in a freezer. Similarly, another long-time fisherman is, for all intents and purposes, "out of business" after every piece of his equipment was lost.
“I’m basically out of business," tells Mike, who only gave the Chronicle his first name, because it's not likely he can replace the spent equipment needed before November's crabbing season; Mike, too, guesses that at least 19 other fishermen had gear stored in the now burned down warehouse.
For some context: a fishing fleet reportedly lost over 7,000 crab pots Saturday, and each of those units is worth north of $250. Robert Maharry, who owns a fishing business affected by the fire, remarked to KRON4 he lost 45 years’ worth of gear.
The offices of the San Francisco Bay touring companies Red and White Fleet and Blue & Gold Fleet, as well as the Jeremiah O'Brien offices, were also destroyed in the fire.
NBC Bay Area notes that an initial report on the investigation into the fire is expected within the next day or two, according to Randy Quezada of the San Francisco Port Authority. A "more comprehensive study" will be released sometime this week.
One firefighter was injured — having suffered minor hand cuts — and the hundreds of employee and loading vehicles usually present in the warehouse were absent during the fire.
Image: Matt Charnock/SFist