Firefighters took nearly three hours to control a five-alarm fire in San Francisco on Thursday that left almost 60 people homeless, according to authorities.
According to a statement by Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, the fire spread to three buildings before 150 firefighters - half of the department's daytime force - were able to control it.
The fire sent one firefighter to the hospital and one civilian was treated for mild smoke inhalation, Hayes-White added.
"It was like boom, boom, boom, boom, five to seven times," a witness, Rebecca Kmiec, told the San Francisco Chronicle, explaining the initial “series of explosions” she heard as the fire erupted.
"It was a challenging fire to fight, but given the time of day, it was actually helpful because most people were out of their dwellings," Hayes-White said in a statement. "Other than two minor injuries we were very fortunate given the magnitude of the fire."
The fire spread easily due to brisk winds and because the building where the fire started was made of wood and directly attached to other buildings, Hayes-White added.
The fire chief concluded that the fire started in one Western Addition neighborhood home and spread to an apartment nearby, then to a single-family home.
Authorities had to close down several streets, causing massive traffic jams. A total of 32 homes were destroyed.
NBC Bay Area reported The American Red Cross has set up an evacuation center to help the newly homeless residents. People wishing to donate can visit redcrossbayare.org.
Arson investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.
Californians are no strangers to local wildfires. In August 2009, thousands of acres of land burned in Southern California in what many suspected to be a case of arson.