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Welding work examined as possible cause of massive San Francisco fire

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SAN FRANCISCO – Fire investigators on Wednesday were looking into whether welding work was to blame for a massive blaze that barreled through an apartment building construction site, threatening nearby structures and prompting evacuations as firefighters worked to prevent its spread through a San Francisco neighborhood.

City officials said a catastrophe was narrowly avoided in an up-and-coming area near AT&T Park, home of the Giants.

“I think we’re very lucky that the fire didn’t jump anymore,” Mayor Ed Lee said.

The exact cause of the blaze – one of the largest in the city in recent years – was under investigation. Fire officials were looking into preliminary reports that workers at the block-long site were doing torch work shortly before the fire was reported around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.

“It’s too early to determine a cause at this point,” Fire Department Battalion Chief Kirk Richardson said. “Our arson investigators still have a lot of material they have to look at.”

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. One of them suffered burns while battling the fire from above but didn’t realize he was injured for hours, said firefighter Stephen Maguire, whose crew was among the first to arrive.

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