Inoperable Fire-Suppression System

Contractors were in the process of installing a fire-suppression system in the building, but it was not yet operable. Hayes-White says the wood-frame building supplied ample fuel for the fire.

Thirty residential units and the streets surrounding the building all have been evacuated until the upper portions of the building can be demolished, although Hayes-White expects them to collapse on their own. Part of the building already has collapsed inward, says San Francisco Deputy Fire Chief Mark Gonzales.

As soon as the site is safe, the fire department plans to call in structural engineers to determine the best course of action for bringing down the remainder of the building, considered a total loss.

"We are currently assessing the situation, including the cause of the fire, and we will be consulting with the appropriate authorities," BRE said in a statement. "Comprehensive insurance coverage for events such as this" will cover hard-cost replacement, soft costs and loss of revenue, it added.

The fire did not affect BRE's Block 11 site, a 188-unit project under construction and part of the MB360 development.