Red Cross opens shelter for displaced residents in Tenderloin fire 

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The American Red Cross has opened a shelter Sunday night to accommodate the more than 60 residents displaced this morning by a fire at 347 Eddy Street.

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, 65 out of the more than 120 residents in the building had requested assistance from the Red Cross. A shelter has been established at the City of Refuge church at 1025 Howard St.

The fire in the 6-story, 40-unit apartment building, which injured one resident and a firefighter, was probably caused by a cigarette dropped into a lightwell, fire officials said this afternoon.

First reported around 8 a.m., the fire began in a lightwell when some collected debris caught fire, said Assistant Fire Chief Bob Postel.

The fire traveled up the lightwell rapidly, eventually spreading to all six floors of the building, Postel said.

The flames remained largely contained to the lightwell and some surrounding void space, and did not extend into the attic or living spaces, Postel said. However, firefighters struggled to gain access to the area and had to open up the walls in seven units to completely extinguish the flames.

"We were there about four hours," Postel said. "It was a stubborn fire with a lot of work, very labor intensive, just because of the location."

One resident was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor smoke inhalation, and one firefighter received unknown minor injuries.

All residents of the building were evacuated today because the water and power remain shut off. Most residents will probably be able to return Monday, but those in the seven units that sustained the most damage will probably be displaced longer, Postel said.

Investigators found smoking materials in the area where the fire started, and Postel said the likely cause was a resident dropping a lighted cigarette down the lightwell.

Structural damage is estimated at around $250,000.

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