A dramatic, five-alarm fire burned three buildings near San Francisco's Alamo Square, December 22, 2011. (Darlene Bouchard/KQED)

The latest from Bay City News:

Firefighters are gaining the upper hand on a dramatic five-alarm fire that has burned for hours in three buildings near San Francisco’s Alamo Square.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said it appears firefighters will have the blaze under control in the “not-so-distant future.”

At least two people suffered minor injuries in the fire — a firefighter who suffered neck burns and a civilian, Hayes-White said. A dispatcher said the firefighter who suffered the burns was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

The blaze was reported at 11:53 a.m. at a three-unit Victorian home 1502 Golden Gate Ave. and the flames spread rapidly along the rear of the building, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said at afternoon news briefing.

About 140 firefighters have responded to the blaze, the chief said.

“The fire is one of the most intense the city has seen in some time,” she said.

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Firefighters searched the building where the fire started except for the top floor, which was already engulfed in flames, but they were optimistic that everybody made it out, Hayes-White said.

The chief said the “intensity of the heat and flames” forced firefighters to change tactics when conditions became too dangerous.

She said the wind is making it challenging to fight the fire, as is the fact that the building of origin is a wood structure and is attached to other buildings.

“Everyone’s done a tremendous job,” Hayes-White said.

Dozens of people filled nearby streets to watch the fire, including San Francisco Supervisor and sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi, whose district encompasses that neighborhood.

“This is gut-wrenching because we’re in the heart of the holiday,” Mirkarimi said.

Mayor Ed Lee was also at the scene this afternoon.

The building where the fire started is adjacent to the Creative Arts Charter School, a dispatcher said. An outgoing message at the school states that the school is on winter break.

A nearby elderly care facility was evacuated as a precaution because of the heavy smoke.

Pierce Street was shut down between McAllister and Turk streets, while Golden Gate Avenue was shut down between Scott and Steiner streets as of 1 p.m.

The American Red Cross has also responded to the scene to assist displaced residents, spokesman Patricia Peper said. Peper did not immediately have information how many residents were displaced.

5:30 p.m. The latest report from the Chronicle

2:50 p.m. KQED’s Kat Snow talked to Sarah Chase of 1015 Pierce Street, the building that had its roof collapse. She told us…

“You can’t get in, you can’t see up close. The whole top floor is gone…We’re on the first floor, apparently that’s in the best condition. It looks like everything on the top floor is gone. The building next door [looks like firewood.]…It’s too dangerous to go in.

“Everyone is safe, in our building at least. There are still a few animals inside. The Red Cross is here, they’ve already given us clothes. We’re in a church across the street; they’ve given us water and snacks.

“”We’re dogsitting, and luckily we had the dog away from the house.”

It will be at least 24 hours before she will be able to go back inside the building to check on her things, she said. “Not the Christmas anyone wanted.”

1:23 p.m. Tweeted by KGO:

http://twitter.com/#!/kgoradio/status/149962709880942592

 

1:16 p.m. More video, from NBC Bay Area:

1:10 p.m. Reporter Cybil Wallace tells us the following:

“There’s a lot of ash coming down onto the street. The responders directing traffic away are all wearing masks to keep the smoke away. It smells like a giant fireplace, actually. You can’t see much through the black smoke, and I just got a glimpse of a huge wall of flames.”

1:05 p.m. Tweeted by SFPD:

http://twitter.com/#!/SFPD/statuses/149958145500917760

 

1 p.m. Raw video posted on the Mercury News site:

 

12:57 p.m. KPIX TV is reporting fire officials say one of the 3 buildings on fire is going to collapse any moment.

12:55 p.m. Update from SF Fire, on RadioReference.com:

(SAN FRANCISCO – ) UPDATE: COMMAND/INCIDENT COMMANDER ORDERING AN URGENT EVAC OF DELTA BLDG. COS STILL INSIDE & THE BLDG IS COLLAPSING.

12:45 p.m. From Emergency in SF tweet:

http://twitter.com/#!/Emergency_In_SF/status/149952509362962432

 

12:40 p.m. Map of area:

View Larger Map

12:33 p.m. Firefighters are on the roof.

12: 30 p.m. Buildings are on fire at Golden Gate and Pierce.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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