Deck collapse in San Francisco injures married couple

A married couple in their 50s were injured Monday evening in San Francisco when their backyard balcony collapsed.  

It happened in the Outer Sunset district, at 39th Avenue and Moraga. 

After surveying the damage, a city building inspector put a violation notice on the front door of the 2-bedroom house. He told KTVU there was clear evidence of dry rot, which caused the deck to break off and fall about ten feet. 

"In this neighborhood you have to do the upkeep or these things happen, there's a lot of dry rot," neighbor Mike Nelsen told KTVU. 

Nelsen heard the commotion at about 5 p.m., and stepped outside. 

"The neighbor told us the deck collapsed and the lady was probably on it, and she broke her femur," said Nelsen. 

The woman's injuries are described as serious but not life-threatening. After she was taken to the hospital, her husband was seen walking slowly to the curb, assisted by fire-paramedics. A short time later, they put him on a gurney, and transported him to the hospital as well. 

 The homes in the area were built in the 1940's, without balconies, although some were added later. 
"I'm not surprised because we live by the beach and a lot of these houses are really old," said neighbor Sean Gleavy, "and since it happened, it could happen to anyone here, especially with an old porch."

The violation notice identifies dry rot in the wood connecting the 10' by 15' deck to the house. 

"It is something that should be an eye-opener to everybody," said San Francisco Fire Lt. Jonathan Baxter, speaking on the importance of regular deck inspection and maintenance. "Because this did happen, any of us with balconies should look to make sure they're safe in living spaces or work spaces."

The building inspector said the deck tore away and flipped, almost in one piece. 

 "The moisture, the salty air, and this recent storm, with all the wind, probably pushed it over the edge," said neighbor Nelsen.  

The initial call came in as a building collapse, so Baxter expressed relief the incident wasn't that severe, and that both victims will recover.