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Posted: 12:43 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013
By Amber Lee
SAN FRANCISCO —
San Francisco fire officials on Wednesday told KTVU a security gate and the wrong address delayed their response time to a deadly house fire last Friday morning in the Sunset neighborhood.
The fatal fire killed three members of one family.
A caller reporting the fire sent crews to the wrong address, which added six to seven minute delay to the department's response time.
"It actually took responding crews about six blocks away from the proper location," said SFFD spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.
Additionally, firefighters told KTVU they had to use a power saw to get inside the home. That took fire crews an additional five minutes.
Firefighters said heat , smoke and flames kept them from entering through the front and side windows.
Officials said before crews were able to break the gate open, they entered through the garage where the basement was also on fire.
33-year-old Raymond Tse was found dead in an in-law unit.
It appeared that's where the fire started accidentally.
"Either smoking or an electrical failure . There was evidence of both," said Talmadge.
Tse's one-year-old daughter Chloe and his 61-year-old father Kin Fat Tse were on the third floor.
Both were taken to the hospital, where they died.
"So painful, so hurt," said family friend Paul Lee.
Lee told KTVU he has known the grandfather for more than 20 years.
Tse is a well known and well-loved merchant in San Francisco Chinatown.
"Everyday, we say hi. We smile at each other over 20 years," said Lee
Fire officials said many homes in the city have security gates that can be popped open quickly with hand tools.
What made the gate on the Tse family home harder to break open was that it had an extra metal guard and a dead bolt
Firefighters recommend that homeowners leave a key to the security gate with a neighbor or have a lockbox outside the home.
"It's a balancing act. You have to balance security and safety," said Fire Captain Glenn Ortiz-Schuldt.
There is a growing memorial in front of the Tse family home as friends and neighbors continue to leave flowers and other gifts.
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