A fire that began on the 11th Floor of 440 Davis Court in San Francisco led to a late-night evacuation of several floors of the Financial District highrise, and injured at least four residents.
The San Francisco Fire Department responded to the three-alarm fire at The Gateway apartment complex around 1:20 a.m. Friday, and evacuated residents from three floors of the 440 Davis tower — the 11th, 12th, and 13th. According to the SFFD, the 11th floor of the building was rendered uninhabitable, displacing an unknown number of residents from 22 units, in addition to one unit on the 12th floor.
Forward progress of the fire was stopped about an hour after firefighters arrived, as the Chronicle reported, and a "long streak of heavy scorch marks were visible on the building’s south side, which faces Washington Street."
"We do have two injuries at this time that are being treated by paramedics," Lt. Jonathan Baxter of the SFFD said in a 4:30 a.m. video report. "They are reported to be in good condition." Baxter later revised that to say that four people had been injured — and KPIX reported that "at least five" people had suffered injuries.
Thank you @RedCrossNorCal (Our liaison for recovery and city services) @sfmta_muni for providing warm buses for temporary evacuation shelter @SFPD for providing scene safety @SFWater for providing extra hydrant pressure and the community for all your help at 440 Davis Ct. pic.twitter.com/3nvJHqqv04— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) November 20, 2020
Evacuees were provided "warm buses" as temporary shelter, and most residents of the 12th, 13th, and other floors were permitted to return home around 3:30 a.m.
UPDATE 440 DAVIS REPOPULATING NOW -- NUMBER OF DISPLACED BEING EVALUATED -- 11 FLOOR (22 UNITS) and 1 UNIT ON RHE 12 FLOOR UNIHABITABLE AT THIS TIME -- 4 INJURED pic.twitter.com/HyUdMARXVO— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) November 20, 2020
An even more severe fire broke out in October 2018 on the 12th floor of a different building in the complex, 405 Davis Court. That incident caused damage to about 30 units, and raised questions about the building's lack of a sprinkler system — something that is not required for older buildings built before sprinklers were mandatory.
Update: District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin vowed Friday morning to introduce legislation that will require sprinklers in older highrise buildings like this one.
The Gateway complex dates back to the early 1960s, and consists of 1254 apartments and 58 townhomes spread across twelve buildings, several of them 25 stories tall and overlooking the Embarcadero. It is home to many elderly residents — and in the 2018 fire a dramatic rescue took place of a couple who were in their 100s.