SF fire investigators unable to rule out ‘electrical fault' as cause of deadly fire

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - An investigation report just released by the San Francisco Fire Department  stopped short of declaring a cause of a fire at 22nd and Mission Streets, but it suggests an accidental electrical problem could have played a role. 

The four alarm fire in January killed one man and injured six others.

In the conclusion of the report, investigators wrote they were "unable to eliminate an unspecified electrical fault or failure as being involved in the ignition sequence of this fire."

Electrical problems were suspected soon after the fire burned through the third floor and attic of the building, which was home to more than 50 people and commercial tenants on the first floor. 

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The investigation report released by the fire department also contains accounts from witnesses who described being unable to access fire escapes due to bars on some windows.  One resident on the third floor told firefighters he first noticed the fire in a closet, but was unable to get a fire extinguisher to work when he tried to put out the flames. 

The same witness told investigators circuits were occasionally "over-loaded" in the unit before.

Firefighters described finding the one deceased victim, Mauricio Orrelana, wearing headphones while lying on a mattress in a closet that had been converted into a sleeping area.

KTVU was unable to reach the building's owner, Hawk Ling Lou, for comment about the report. 

Court records show several commercial tenants filed a lawsuit against Lou in June, claiming negligence and breach of contract. 

The lawsuit also claims the fire was caused by "faulty and/or poorly installed and/or maintained electrical systems."