Five-alarm fire devastates San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood

Image 1 of 6

Fire investigators have returned to the scene of the aftermath from a devastating fire in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood over the weekend.

The fire left dozens of people displaced, but questions remain on how the fire started.

Fire officials say investigators will begin the structural survey of what's left of the building at about 9 a.m.

Later Monday they will determine whether or not it'll be deemed safe for residents to come back and retrieve any belongings.

Firefighters contained the 5-alarm fire, but not before it burned eight buildings in the 3300 block of Mission Street Saturday afternoon.

Bobby Montoya was sitting at home with his dog, Papi, when the fire alarm went off. Montoya said he didn’t have much time after that to get out.

"Next thing is black smoke, black smoke, black smoke, pow,” said Montoya.

“It was coming up front the vents that haven’t worked in decades.”

Montoya said he and two other men started banging on neighbors’ doors and helped an elderly woman get down the stairs. A young man named Jose said his girlfriend called him while he was at work to break the news of the fire.

“I lost everything, all of my clothes, all of my furniture,” said Jose.

Michelle Thompson also said she ran out with just her wallet.

"Next thing, I'm looking over and the whole street, the buildings, the stores, the restaurants are on fire. They all lit up,” said Thompson.

The Salvation Army on Valencia Street said 42 people are displaced, including nine children. Cots were set up in the gymnasium and families can stay together in the chapel.

"We know the housing impact and few places are available at low income levels, so our hearts go out to the people affected by this fire,” said the Salvation Army’s director of emergency disaster services John McKnight.

“ I can do very little about that right now, but what I can do is provide them a safe place to sleep for the night and maybe a good meal."

Jose said he’s been through this before. His parents lost their apartment in the Mission Fire in January 2015.

"I'm like really? Again? It happened to my parents a year ago and now us?"