Thursday, July 12, 2012

SF Fire Dept 'Unable to Determine
a Cause' of Valencia/Duboce Blaze

The San Francisco Fire Department's public information office is not committed to making access to investigation reports as easy as clicking on such reports on their web site. In May I blogged about how the department made bogus claims about lack of space on their site and that regulations require members of the public to file written requests for all reports.

Earlier this week the SFFD, after I made a request for the investigation report on the May 6 fire at Valencia and Duboce's Streets in the Mission District, emailed me the ten-page report. It is not available for public inspection on the department's page regarding reports, and I contend that the department should regularly post all investigation reports.

The final conclusion of the investigation on page 7, pictured, of the report which I have posted in its entirety here, into the Valenica and Duboce fire is inconclusive:

"Based on [our] investigation, witness statements and examination of the physical evidence, we determined that the fire originated in the area at the bottom of the apartment's rear, exterior stairwell on the ground level. We are unable to determine a cause of the fire. Factors contributing to listing the cause as undetermined include: tenants smoke in the area, the area contained the apartment's garbage collection center, the area was unkempt, the area was not secure, a BBQ was found in the area, and the building's electrical distribution center is in the area."

Those are the conclusions of the investigation, and help to address the question everyone had about what sparked the blaze. I guess we will never learn what factor(s) caused so much property destruction and displaced our friends and neighbors. I hope the report provides some closure for everyone impacted by the fire.

In my view, the SFFD places an undue burden on the forty or so people who lived in the building, their friends and families, the business owners affected by the fire, the dozens of concerned neighbors and print and online media outlets who wants answers about the cause and investigation of the May 6 fire.

Instead of making everyone file a written request, the SFFD would better serve the taxpayers, the press and all persons affected by the fire if they would simply post the report on their site. With a $60 million-plus budget, the department can afford staff time to post all investigation reports and expand their web site's space.

[UPDATE: Several folks have told me they cannot open the report at my Google Docs page. If you can't read it, please email me for the PDF: MPetrelis(at)A0L(dot)com.]

1 comment:

Frances said...

If the local fire department couldn't be able to determine the cause of the fire, some fire investigation specialists might be able to do the job.