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San Francisco Fire Department
Marina District

Cervantes Blvd. and Fillmore St. Rescue Operations

At 5:11 p.m., the Communications Center dispatched Engine No. 16, quartered near the Marina District, to Cervantes Boulevard and Fillmore Street on a report of people trapped in the rubble of a large structure.

Upon arrival, Lt. Jimmie T. Braden discovered that the first floor of the large apartment building at 2 Cervantes Boulevard had fully collapsed with people trapped in the rubble and a strong odor of natural gas in the immediate area. He asked the Communications Center for a full first-alarm assignment. The Communications Center responded that there no units were available in the City to assist him. He then went to assist as members of Engine No. 16 attempted to rescue a woman and her baby trapped beneath the wreckage of the large apartment building.

Shortly after the earthquake Battalion Chief Victor M. Shannon of Battalion No. 4 was about to survey his district for earthquake damage as required by the Department's Disaster Operations Plan. As he drove away from his quarters at Fire Station No. 38, he was flagged down by citizens who reported structural damage to the high-rise apartment building at 1750 O'Farrell Street, where tenants were self-evacuating the structure.

He heard Lt. Braden's request for assistance and ordered the Communications Center to dispatch a rescue company to assist Engine No. 16, and he then responded to the area.

While responding, a major PG&E gas main break was discovered by Battalion Chief Shannon at Alhambra Street and Mallorca Way. With the aid of police officers and citizen volunteers, he and members of Rescue No. 2 cordoned off the area and evacuated buildings in the vicinity.

At 5:26 p.m., 22 minutes after the earthquake, a citizen ran up to Battalion Chief Shannon to tell him that Engine No. 16 needed assistance at 2 Cervantes Boulevard. Battalion Chief Shannon radioed the Communications Center and ordered two additional truck companies. He then heard Truck No. 5 on the air and ordered that unit to assist at the building collapse. Two minutes later he heard Engine No. 38 on the air and ordered that unit to respond.

Engine No. 16 and Rescue No. 2 were attempting to rescue the trapped woman and her three-and-one-half-month-old baby boy. The crew freed the baby and Firefighter Rudolph J. Castellanos of Engine No. 16 worked to revive him; he then took the infant from the building where members of Rescue No. 2 and an ambulance crew continued the resuscitation attempt. However, the heroic effort failed and the baby died.

Other members of Rescue No. 2 continued the attempt to revive the mother. She was injured but alive, and she and other rescued victims were taken to a hospital by ambulance.

As the rescue efforts continued, Truck No. 5 and Engine No. 38 arrived at Cervantes Boulevard and Fillmore Street. Because of the extreme danger of fire ignition from a broken PG&E gas main, Battalion Chief Shannon ordered Engine No. 38 to connect to a High Pressure hydrant and prepare the Multiversal nozzle, which is a pre-connected master-stream deluge nozzle carried by all San Francisco Fire Department engines.

He also ordered Truck No. 5 to assist Engine No. 16 with the rescue attempt in the rear of the collapsed building where a man and woman were also trapped.

The firefighters cut through the floor with a chain saw and gave the trapped man an air mask, but could not immediately reach the woman.

As the firefighters continued to remove debris to free the victims, a major earthquake aftershock rocked the building and caused the structure to shift. PG&E gas flooded the area, and when the victims were finally reached, paramedics pronounced both he and the woman dead.

Fire Operations - Marina District or return to the Table of Contents

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