Tuesday, March 20, 2007

San Francisco Apartment Arson Fire Suspect Sought

Silver Warner Arson suspectSilver Warner Arson suspect
San Francisco Apartment Arson Fire Suspect Sought

(CBS 5 / BCN) SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco police are searching for a man they said set a three-alarm fire Monday evening that gutted the Hayes Valley apartment building where he lived.

Police and fire department officials, working together as a Joint Arson Task Force, said Tuesday that they believe Silver Warner, 33, started the blaze at 52 Page St. near the intersection of Market and Gough streets.

Warner, a local artist whose photographs have been published in prominent local publications like Hamburger Eyes, has not been seen since the blaze erupted around 5:08 p.m.

Police describe Warner as a white man just over 6 feet tall with a slim build and collar-length brown hair. He was last seen wearing a black stocking cap, a tight jacket, blue jeans, tennis shoes and black-framed glasses. He was also carrying a bike-messenger bag.

Seventeen people were displaced and a firefighter was hurt after leaping from a fourth-story window during the containment of the fire, according to fire officials.

San Francisco fire Lt. Ken Smith said advancing smoke inside the residential four-story building forced a firefighter out of a window and onto the roof of an adjoining building 12 feet below. The firefighter sustained ankle and knee injuries in the fall but was able to rejoin his unit, Smith said.

All residents were accounted for and unharmed, though someone's cat went missing. Burning on both the third and fourth floors, flames eventually caused sections of the roof to cave in, and the rear stairs caught fire, making access more difficult, Smith said.

He also called the blaze "stubborn" and said 125 firefighters were summoned to extinguish it during the three-alarm response.

The fire was contained within the hour, but smoldering hot spots kept crews busy afterward. An estimate is still not available and water damage in lower units made the entire building unfit for immediate occupation.

The fire appeared to threaten the neighboring Kanbar Performing Arts Center, but its concrete exterior acted as an effective buffer against the fire spreading, Smith said.

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