A suspicious four-alarm fire in San Francisco's Silver Terrace neighborhood damaged four homes and displaced 10 people early Tuesday morning.
The blaze was reported on Boutwell Street near Bayshore Boulevard at about 3 a.m.
Firefighters arrived to find the buildings ablaze and power lines down, Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa said. He said that when he got to the scene, he smelled gas.
A person seen leaving the area around the time the fire started has been detained, he said.
The fire was controlled at 4:51 a.m. No injuries were reported but at least eight adults and two children were displaced.
Siragusa said the house where the fire started was destroyed, and that three other homes were damaged. There is no dollar estimate for the damage yet.
Almost exactly three years ago Tuesday, another fire burned at the same two-story, wood-frame home where the fire started.
That blaze, which reached three alarms, was reported at about 10:30 p.m. on the Fourth of July in 2009. No one was injured.
Siragusa said fireworks caused the 2009 fire. A fire lieutenant said at the time that the fire was difficult to fight because of an unusual amount of debris inside the home.
Arlene Campbell, 58, who lives a few blocks away on Peralta Avenue, on the other side of U.S. Highway 101, said she knows the neighborhood well and that there are five to 10 homeless people who stay in the building where the fire started.
She said they have caused other problems in the neighborhood and that one once threatened to kill her. She said she has filed a police report about them.
Marla Racca, 28, who lives on Boutwell Street, said the home has a back staircase leading down to Bayshore Boulevard and that squatters live there.
She said that over time, she has heard "a whole lot of hammering" and other loud noises coming from the home. Racca said she and other residents have called police about the squatters.