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Monday, April 18, 2016

How Reliable Is SF’s Earthquake Emergency Water Supply? (Spoiler: Not Very)

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 11:41 AM

The fireboat Phoenix, which helped put out the flames in the Marina in 1989 after the water supply failed. - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • The fireboat Phoenix, which helped put out the flames in the Marina in 1989 after the water supply failed.

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire, which means it’s a good time to take stock of the things that could save San Francisco when another major temblor strikes the region.

One of those things is water for the Fire Department to put out infernos. In 1906, the 7.8-magnitude quake did some serious damage on its own, but the fires it created wreaked the worst havoc. To ensure that high-pressure water would be available after another temblor, San Francisco built what remains the only backup water system in any U.S. city.

However, much of the 1913 system’s infrastructure is weak and outdated. After the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the auxiliary water supply system failed in the Marina District. According to an October story in the Chronicle, published 26 years after that dire warning, less than 50 percent of the system would be reliable after another earthquake.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lawsuit: PG&E Brass Ordered Documents Destroyed After San Bruno

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 1:17 PM

Officials with Pacific Gas and Electric Company — whose gas main blew up in San Bruno in September 2010, killing eight people and destroying a neighborhood — ordered documents destroyed after the explosion, according to a claim made in a lawsuit.

As the Chronicle reports, former PG&E official Leslie Banach McNiece was hired after the fatal blast to help PG&E sift through its records.

She claims to have discovered key documents — including a "telltale preblast analysis of the pipe" — in a garbage bin, she told federal prosecutors.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

As Structure Fires Drop Citywide, Mission District Blazes Steadily

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 12:52 PM

Last year's fatal fire at 22nd and Mission Streets. - GABRIELLE LURIE/SF EXAMINER
  • Gabrielle Lurie/SF Examiner
  • Last year's fatal fire at 22nd and Mission Streets.
The San Francisco Fire Department has discovered a dismaying trend: While fires in San Francisco have been on a gradual decline in the previous decade, the Mission District — home of some of the most in-demand real estate in the United States — hasn’t followed suit.

Citywide, annual conflagrations dropped from 317 in 2005 to a 10-year low of 186 in 2015, with some years showing fluctuations. The worst year was 2007, which saw 350 blazes.

But it’s a different story in the Mission, which has seen annual counts jump sporadically between a low of 10 fires and a high of 29 during the same period, in defiance of the city's overall downward trend — and meaning that a greater number of the city's total fires are in the Mission than ever before.

What's behind this steady rate of fires in the Mission? Nobody's quite sure. 

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Massive Valley Wildfire Razes Hundreds of Homes and Burns Infrastructure

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 1:01 PM

  • beauty4ll1 via Instagram
The 61,000-acre wildfire raging in Lake and Napa Counties that has killed one person and razed hundreds of homes has also damaged infrastructure, Kron 4 reports.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

City's Arson Task Force Is Understaffed and Overwhelmed

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 11:23 AM

  • Michael Kappel/Flickr

The San Francisco Fire Department is “incredibly understaffed” and swamped with a four-year investigation backlog. KQED reports that the SFFD has failed to close more than 300 investigations, with the city’s arson task force particularly overwhelmed.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

1 Dead, 40 Homeless After Huge Fire Burns Through Mission District Building

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 7:23 AM

Red Cross is working to assist a total of 40 residents who were displaced after a six-alarm fire broke out in the Mission District last night, injuring six people and killing one man. 

Just before 7 p.m., firefighters arrived to the fiery scene on the 3200 block of Mission Street where flames were ripping out the side of the building. 

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cops Arrest Suspect in Mrs. Doubtfire House Fire (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Update 2:46 p.m.: Officer Albie Esparza tells us that the cops have arrested 25-year-old Tyqwon Eugenen Welch of Los Angeles on suspicion of setting fire the Mrs. Doubtfire residence. SFPD arson investigators developed information on the whereabouts of Welch and took her into custody this morning in the City of San Jose a little before 10 a.m..

Welch was booked on attempted murder, criminal threats, trespassing, arson and possession of an incendiary device. She is being held at the San Francisco County Jail. No booking photo at this time as the investigation is still on going and no further details. 

Original Story 1 p.m.: San Francisco police say they've nabbed the arsonist who set fire to the famous Pac Heights home where the late comedian Robin Williams filmed Mrs. Doubtfire

Police were remaining tight-lipped about the case, but says that investigators were down in the South Bay Bay where the suspect was located and detained. 

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Another Car Torched Over the Weekend

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 8:54 AM

San Francisco police are investigating yet another car fire over the weekend in the city's Castro District, making in the fifth vehicle set ablaze since last week.  

Officer Gordon Shyy tells us that police went out to the 100 block of Hartford at 3 a.m. yesterday where they found a four-door sedan in flames. 

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Elderly Transient Arrested in Series of Arson Fires

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM

San Francisco police arrested 73-year-old Rickard Anderson, a transient of San Francisco, on suspicion of starting multiple fires within the Union Square and Financial District over the last week.

According to police, Anderson was taken into custody on Nov. 19 after a four-day fire-starting spree. 

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Mission Fire: Crews Say Burned Building Too Dangerous to Inspect

Posted By on Fri, Sep 5, 2014 at 9:20 AM

A team of firefighters are over at the scene in the Mission District where a five-alarm blaze burned for several hours, sending heavy smoke visible across the city and injuring a handful of people, including firefighters. 

But the damage was extensive enough that firefighters are not able to access the retail building to assess the total damage — or learn the cause. 

"Investigators can't get into the building so they won't be in there investigating visually, it's too dangerous," Mindy Talmadge, spokeswoman for the Fire Department, told us this morning.  "So they'll have to go on interviews."

It could be later this afternoon when authorities can put a price on the amount of damage from yesterday's fire. 

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"