SAN FRANCISCO - Financial assistance is being offered by San Francisco for four businesses that were damaged in a fire Saturday morning in the 400 block of Castro Street.
The fire was reported at 4:32 a.m. at 456 Castro St., and was contained by 10 a.m., fire officials said. was taken to a burn center with serious injuries and a firefighter was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.
Later on Saturday, Mayor London Breed directed the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development to activate the Small Business Disaster
Relief Fund to assist four small businesses that sustained fire and or water damage.
The businesses eligible to apply for as much as $10,000 are Body, 450 Castro St.; Q Bar, 456 Castro St.; Osaka Sushi, 460 Castro St. and CafT Mystique, 464 Castro St.
The funds can be used for immediate needs such as inventory replacement, equipment purchases, security deposits for a new lease, employee
salaries, or other expenses to stabilize cash flow.
"Our small businesses are the anchors of our merchant corridors and it is critical that our merchants receive the support and help necessary to recover and restore services to the community quickly," Breed said in a statement. "The city family is here to provide more than financial support; we will also help to provide technical assistance with permitting so these small businesses can reopen as quickly as possible."
Personnel from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development visited the affected block Saturday to assess damage, offer direct assistance to the businesses and employees, and coordinate communication with city agencies and assistance organizations, the city said.
"The city, and my office, are here to help everyone affected by the fire and to help them return as quickly as possible," said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.
Officials say assistance can be critical in the immediate weeks after a disaster in helping small businesses survive, noting that "While many businesses may receive insurance proceeds or have the ability to access a traditional or disaster loan, the delay in receiving these funds can take weeks or months."
The cause of the blaze, which displaced 13 people living in the three-story building, is under investigation.
Information about the Small Business Disaster Relief Fund is available at oewd.org/disaster-relief.