(By Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles (tca/dpa) – Firefighters were able to save an historic warship after a massive fire ripped through a warehouse at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco early on Saturday…

The fire broke out about 4:15 am (1115 GMT) in a large warehouse at the end of Pier 45, said Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter, public information officer for the San Francisco Fire Department.

The warehouse is not occupied at night, but homeless people are believed to go inside to sleep, Baxter said.

The fire was quickly called to four alarms, drawing 150 firefighters and 50 pieces of firefighting apparatus to the scene.

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When the first truck responded, the flames were so high they reached above its aerial ladder. The truck sustained some damage as firefighters kept it in place to spray water on the fire, but it proved crucial in keeping the blaze from spreading, Baxter said.

Jeremiah O’Brien liberty ship

Flames also threatened the Jeremiah O’Brien, a World War II liberty ship that participated in the D-Day invasion and is now a tourist attraction.

One fireboat was positioned to protect the historic vessel and a second assisted in pumping thousands of gallons of water from the San Francisco Bay on the west side of the blaze, Baxter said.

The only damage to the Jeremiah O’Brien was some minor paint bubbling, Baxter said.

Fire officials stand in front of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien ship after a fire broke out before dawn at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Saturday, May 23, 2020. A warehouse was destroyed. Fire officials said no injuries have been reported Saturday morning and firefighters are making multiple searches to ensure no one was inside the building on Pier 45. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

 

“We’re happy and proud to say we protected that piece of history, especially at the beginning of Memorial Day [weekend],” Baxter said.

The walls of the warehouse collapsed, but firefighters were able to hold the flames to that building. No injuries were reported and no other buildings were significantly damaged, Baxter said.

By about 8:30 am, there were still active flames in the warehouse and authorities were evaluating the structural integrity of the pier, but they were confident the fire was contained.

Baxter credited regular training drills for helping firefighters take quick action.

“This could very easily have been a conflagration. We pride ourselves that this is one of the areas we do weekly drills on,” he said, referring to training aimed at preventing blazes from spreading to surrounding structures.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire, but authorities said they were looking into whether anyone was inside the warehouse before it broke out.

“We do have concerns this is a congregation area for the homeless and we do have reports that the homeless do on occasion go into that structure to sleep,” Baxter said. “At this time we do not have any indication that is the case, but that is one of the main points our fire investigator will be looking at.”

A firefighter sprays into a warehouse after a fire broke out before dawn at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Fire officials said no injuries have been reported Saturday morning and firefighters are making multiple searches to ensure no one was inside the building on Pier 45. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Firefighters step over hoses after a fire broke out before dawn at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Saturday, May 23, 2020. A warehouse was destroyed. Fire officials said no injuries have been reported Saturday morning and firefighters are making multiple searches to ensure no one was inside the building on Pier 45. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
This photo provided by National Weather Service San Francisco Bay Area, smokey conditions linger after a fire broke out before dawn on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and destroyed a warehouse, Saturday, May 23, 2020 in San Francisco. Fire officials said no injuries have been reported Saturday morning and firefighters are making multiple searches to ensure no one was inside the building on Pier 45. (National Weather Service San Francisco Bay Area via AP)
This photo courtesy of Dan Whaley, @dwhly, shows a warehouse fire burning at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco early Saturday, May 23, 2020. The fire tore through the warehouse, sending thick smoke over the waterfront and causing its walls to collapse. (Dan Whaley, @dwhly via AP)
This photo courtesy of Dan Whaley, @dwhly, shows a warehouse fire burning at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco early Saturday, May 23, 2020. The fire tore through the warehouse, sending thick smoke over the waterfront and causing its walls to collapse. (Dan Whaley, @dwhly via AP)
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Author: ANA Newswire