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75 Displaced By San Francisco Nob Hill Fire

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS / BCN) - Three people were hurt and 75 lost their homes after an apartment building in San Francisco's Nob Hill was destroyed by flames Wednesday morning.

The four-alarm fire broke out just after 5 a.m. at 824 Hyde forced between 20 and 30 people, most of them students, to flee the flames. The students attend the nearby Academy of Art University.

About 40 minutes into battling the blaze, firefighters discovered flames had spread to a stairwell between the second and third floors, and the decision was made to get all the firefighters out of the building, San
Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

"As soon as they realized they weren't going to get up (to the upper floors), they pulled everyone out since it was clear the roof was going to cave in," she said.

She said from that point, crews focused on keeping the fire contained to that building, although flames did damage one apartment in an adjacent building at 830 Hyde St.

The fire was controlled at about 7:30 a.m., but firefighters remained at the scene into the evening "to make sure nothing flares up again," Talmadge said.

Three people were taken to St. Francis Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. They were later released, hospital spokeswoman Abbie Yant said.

Employees at the hospital, located a block up Hyde Street from where the fire burned, helped the American Red Cross set up a room where displaced residents could rest, and provided snacks and beverages for them.

About 10 of those people were assessed by hospital staff for possible smoke inhalation but none required treatment, Talmadge said.

Several residents were taken to a temporary shelter at St. Francis Memorial Hospital late Wednesday morning, but a more permanent shelter was scheduled to open in the afternoon at the Gene Friend Recreation Center, located at the corner of Sixth and Folsom streets, Sharp said.

He said 16 of the displaced residents have confirmed that they have to stay at the shelter, and the Red Cross is expecting up to 50 of them will eventually use the shelter.

Sharp said the Red Cross is planning to provide long-term assistance to those who need it.

"It's not so much tonight and tomorrow, but over the next several weeks that we'll be supplying support," Sharp said.

The building at 824 Hyde St. is "a total loss" and will have to be torn down, Talmadge said.

She said only one apartment at 830 Hyde St. sustained fire damage, but all 10 units in that building had smoke, water or other damage. All utilities have been shut off, and residents were not able to return Wednesday.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, she said.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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