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2-Alarm Fire Erupts In San Francisco Apartment Building Identified As Drug Den

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A two-alarm fire raced through a three-story apartment house in San Francisco's Castro District Friday, a building identified by police in the past as a drug den.

San Francisco fire officials said the blaze was reported in the building located at 519 Sanchez St. at around 10:25 p.m.

Arriving crews were greeted by flames and thick smoke and immediately called in a second alarm in the densely-packed neighborhood.

Fire crews swept the building to make sure anyone inside the structure had been able to escape. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The apartment building has had a checkered past. Police have raided the home multiple times, finding methamphetamine and other illicit drugs.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the current property owner, Joel Elliott, back in November 2015. Herrera claimed in the suit that the house was a neighborhood nuisance associated with drug use.

Elliot disputed the assertion to KPIX 5. "I say that is a very deep misunderstanding," said Elliot. "I helped people who were homeless who had drug addictions."

The city won a judgment in 2016 against Elliot for $1.7 million. Unable to pay the judgment, Elliot filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court was forcing him to leave but allowing him to go back to collect his belongings, most of which were burned in the fire.

Elliot said nobody was currently living in the building.

Firefighters said the flames spread quickly and began burning a home next door, prompting evacuations. "Had this occurred at three in the morning, it would have been a completely different story," said San Francisco Assistant Fire Chief Nicol Juratova.

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