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Cause of 2019 Castro Street fire 'undetermined'

Assistant Editor

Firefighters mopped up after a four-alarm fire in the Castro November 16, 2019. Photo: Michael Yamashita
Firefighters mopped up after a four-alarm fire in the Castro November 16, 2019. Photo: Michael Yamashita   

The cause of a fire that shuttered a number of Castro Street businesses is "undetermined," according to a San Francisco Fire Department incident report obtained by the Bay Area Reporter.

As the B.A.R. previously reported a four-alarm fire the morning of November 16, 2019 left two injured and seven residents displaced on Castro Street.

The fire, which was at 456 Castro Street, has since shuttered Q Bar and Osaka Sushi. Body, a clothing store that had been a neighborhood staple for four decades decided to close permanently the following month. Cafe Mystique, the fourth business affected by the fire, quickly reopened and is still open today.

Several fundraisers were held at the time for employees of Q Bar and Osaka Sushi. Affected businesses were allowed to apply for up to $10,000 in city assistance for fire and water damage.

In the months after the fire, the SFFD said an ongoing investigation precluded it from releasing a cause. That changed when the B.A.R. inquired earlier this month, and the department released a one-page fire incident report on May 25 that found the fire originated in the rear of the second floor unit at 456 Castro Street, but that the cause was "undetermined at completion of investigation."

The heat source, item first ignited, and factors contributing to ignition were also undetermined, according to the fire incident report.

The B.A.R. also requested a fire investigation report, which was withheld by the SFFD because it "is not approved for release."

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