Nob Hill foundation collapses, three injured 

Four men were sent to the hospital Thursday, when the foundation of a multi-unit residential complex they were rebuilding near Grace Cathedral partially collapsed — falling on their heads and burying one up to his waist in rubble.

Three of the men suffered minor injuries but escaped and called 911 at 2:22 p.m., according to San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge. The fourth suffered moderate injuries when he was buried waste-high in rocks and concrete. Firefighters used urban rescue equipment to shore up the crumbling wall of the 12-unit complex before digging the man out, Talmadge said. Extricating the man took about 20 minutes, Talmadge said.

All four men were taken to San Francisco General Hospital. Their names were not released.

Doré Construction is overseeing work at the site located at 1260 California St., firefighters said. A call to Doré shortly after the accident wasn’t returned. The building was damaged by fire about a year ago and it is vacant, so there were no other injuries and no tenants were displaced, Talmadge said.

"They were doing foundation work with a jackhammer and concrete and rock began to come down on them," Talmadge said of the accident.

The collapse of the wall occurred in a confined corner of the basement, Talmadge said. It was not immediately known what caused the wall to give way or how extensive the damage was, according to inspectors.

"Right now, no one is being let in because they want more inspections to make sure that the building is safe," SFFD Battalion Chief Edward Liggins said.

Several steel beams appeared to have been recently installed throughout the basement to shore up the foundation and the complex didn’t appear to be in any imminent danger of falling, Talmadge said.

"It’s being red-tagged until it gets the all clear," said Raymon Lui, a San Francisco structural safety engineer who inspected the building. Inspectors for the San Francisco building division and the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the latter called to the scene to investigate working conditions at the construction site, will have to sign off on a plan to repair the foundation wall before the renovation will be allowed to continue, Lui said.

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