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Flare-Ups Challenge Crews In Wake Of Massive Fisherman's Wharf Warehouse Blaze

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Firefighters continued to pour hundreds of gallons of water Tuesday on three hot spots amid the the wreckage left behind by a 4-alarm inferno at Fisherman's Wharf that ravaged a portion of San Francisco's Pier 45 and dealt a serious financial blow to the local commercial crab fleet.

San Francisco fire spokesman Jonathan Baxter told reporters the hopes were to have the smoldering fire completely extinguished by the end of the week.

"We have seen numerous occasions (of flareups) from Saturday at 2 o'clock to today," he said. "We are addressing three locations within the footprint of 45 C that continued to flare up. We are addressing those defensively, with water monitors that are outside the footprint that are delivering water to the actual source."

Fire investigators will not enter the massive debris field to begin searching for a cause until the fire is determined to be completely extinguished.

He said the search for the cause would be "tedious, scientific, time-comsuming process of delayering the tons of material that have collapsed down to the base footprint of that pier" to find the ignition point.

The blaze erupted in the pre-dawn hours Saturday, spreading quickly inside the football field sized 'Shed C' warehouse, consuming thousands of crab, shrimp and black cod traps worth up to $5 million. The blaze was contained by Saturday afternoon, but crews were still monitoring the massive debris pile on Tuesday.

Larry Collins, who runs the San Francisco Community Fishing Association, called the warehouse "the heart and soul of commercial fishing out of the Bay Area."

Port Of San Francisco spokesman Randy Quezada said crews were quickly working to clean up damage to two other large sheds on the pier to allow fish processing operations to resume as quickly as possible.

Arriving firefighters were immediately placed on the defensive around 4:20 a.m. Saturday as the building began to collapse. A fire truck was damaged and a firefighter suffered burns to the hands.

The extend of the damage was visibly evident in drone footage shot by photographer Nathan Wilde on Monday.

Pier 45 was also home to a mix of seafood and maritime businesses and tourist attractions, including the Musée Mécanique, a museum devoted to historic arcade games, and the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, a historic World War II liberty ship.

On Saturday, Baxter heralded the efforts of San Francisco Fire Boat 3 to save the O'Brien, a liberty ship that participated in the Allies invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

San Francisco Pier 45 fire
Drone footage shows destroyed warehouse at Pier 45 in San Francisco following Saturday's fire. (Nathan Wilde)

"When firefighters arrived, the flames were literally lapping over the Jeremiah O'Brien," he said. "They literally saved the O'Brien."

"The Jeremiah O'Brien has been known as the lucky ship," said ship captain Cevan Lesieur. "She survived the North Atlantic and D-Day and that's the first reaction -- it's a miracle!"

The ship was going to be moved a few hundred yards west to Pier 35 North.

Crews were also able to prevent the blaze from spreading to the USS Pampanito, which is also docked at the pier.

Port officials have connected the Pier 45 tenants with disaster relief resources through the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

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