Massive fire destroys affordable housing project in San Francisco


California Construction News staff writer

An affordable apartment complex under construction since last year in North Fair Oaks, San Francisco was destroyed in an eight-alarm fire on June 3.

Roberts-Obayashi Corp., the construction company building the Middlefield Junction affordable housing project called the fire the worst disaster in the company’s 92 year history.

“We are devastated that building B, 104 of the units, was destroyed by fire down to the podium slab,” the company said in a statement.“The fire started on the 5th floor and workers attempted to put the fire out with nearby fire extinguishers, but it grew too quickly and within three hours the entire building was gone.”

There were about 130 workers on site and safety protocols “worked perfectly “and no one was injured. At the time of the fire, there was no hot work being performed on site and the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

“We would like to express our deep gratitude to the firefighters and the emergency response teams for their diligent work to keep all community members safe, and protect building A and surrounding structures,” company officials said. “Mercy Housing and Roberts – Obayashi remain fully committed to completing this development, which has been in construction for over a year and is the result of almost a decade of community planning.

“As soon as it is safe for our teams, and following a thorough investigation, we will return to work at the Middlefield Junction site to assess the damage and make a plan to move forward with construction.

The site was a County-owned vacant parcel that was targeted for housing and neighborhood-serving amenities through an extensive planning process.

“This project addresses the most critical issue facing San Mateo County by providing quality new homes that are affordable,” San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum said at the construction launch event. “Here we have a new development that is creating jobs during construction and in the long-term will create affordable homes that are close by many small family-owned shops and restaurants that will also benefit.”

Once complete, the Middlefield Junction project, a partnership with the County, nonprofit developer Mercy Housing California, the state and private investors was expected to transform a lot that was once home to a recycling facility.

“Our community experience a tremendous loss as a building being constructed for affordable housing went up in flames in our North Fair Oaks community,” San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said in a statement. “This loss could have been so much worse had it not been for the heroic actions of all of our Sheriff’s office personnel who quickly evacuated nearby residents as well as the firefighters who amazingly prevented the fire from spreading to nearby homes and buildings.

“It is truly a miracle that no one was injured.”


  1. As written in the article, thank goodness no one was injured. Thank you to all the emergency personnel, along with the construction personnel for diligently protecting all persons.
    With experience in the masonry industry, it is noted in the photos of the article, the condition of the surrounding scaffolding. Wow, it is hard to believe the majority of the scaffolding is intact and upright. One would tend to believe as the building came down from the fire, the scaffolding would also topple down, since the scaffold had to be tied off to the building.
    Hats off to the scaffolding contractor. It appears there is some serious damage and total loss to a portion of the scaffolding, however there may be some scaffolding parts, pieces and planking that could go right back onto the pallets or skids and taken to the next project. We are all aware this may not be the case. Again, hats off to the scaffolding contractor and a huge thank you to all construction and emergency personnel.
    Also, a huge thank you to Mercy Housing and Roberts-Obayashi for the commitment of proceeding with construction, after a thorough investigation and having a plan to move forward, as mentioned in the article. It is truly commendable to all construction and emergency personnel that there were no injuries from this huge incident.
    Thank you to ALL Personnel


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