Venezia Interiors in West Portal being cleaned on April 19 after Monday’s fire. (Abraham Fuentes / Golden Gate Xpress) (Abraham Fuentes)
Venezia Interiors in West Portal being cleaned on April 19 after Monday’s fire. (Abraham Fuentes / Golden Gate Xpress)

Abraham Fuentes

Three alarm fire in West Portal damages 3 buildings, injures firefighter

April 19, 2022

Three buildings were damaged, and a firefighter received non life-threatening injuries after a construction-related roof fire broke out in San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood Monday afternoon. 

The first alarm went off at 301 West Portal Ave. around 11:30 a.m. according to the San Francisco Fire Department and by 12:30 p.m. the fire grew to three alarms. Fire officials claimed the fire started accidentally and was related to construction

The fire quickly spread through the 300 block of West Portal Avenue damaging three buildings, six addresses all of which are businesses, and causing a partial collapse of 309 West Portal Ave.

Former officer Henry Shishnanian, 71, was getting his morning coffee from Ballast Coffee when he noticed the cloud of smoke forming above Fuji Japanese Restaurant near his parked car.

 “I smelled it before I saw it,” Shishnanian said.

West Portal Cleaners stands empty with an exposed roof on April 19 after Monday’s fire. (Abraham Fuentes / Golden Gate Xpress) (Abraham Fuentes)

He thought it was coming from the usual cooking from the restaurant but later realized it was a fire, called 911 and moved his car to safety.

Shishnanian saw that roofers were the cause of the fire which he knows from experience and connections that roofing can cause serious fires if not done properly. He said since the work was being done on a kitchen, residual grease could be a possible risk.  

He admitted he cannot confirm that was the reason for the fire spreading so fast until official confirmation from the fire department, but believes it is most likely the reason. 

“Those poor guys were running around like crazy,” said Shishnanian. “They couldn’t get off the roof … If the fire trucks had not got there, it would’ve been a lot worse.”  

According to fire department officials, no civilians were injured but one firefighter obtained non-life-threatening injuries due to the incident. 

The entire block was successfully evacuated as the fire grew, and no residential buildings were damaged.

The fire was successfully contained by 2 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Jocelyn Hernandez Gomez
Jocelyn Hernandez Gomez
Hello! My name is Jocelyn Hernandez Gomez. I currently live in San Francisco, but I'm from San Jose. I enjoy music, reading and creative writing. I have worked in many student run publications as both a staff reporter and an editor. 
Photo of Abraham Fuentes
Abraham Fuentes, Staff Photographer
Abraham Fuentes (he/him) is a photojournalism major with a minor in political science at SF State. He is the photo editor for Xpress Magazine. He is a Sonoma County, California native and lives in Santa Rosa, California. Abraham loves to take photos with his film camera; his favorite film stocks are Kodak 400TX and Cinestill 800t. He hopes to tell stories through photography.

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