San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Midday News Roundup

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Fire at San Francisco General Hopsital

Seven construction workers and one firefighter suffered minor injuries after a fire broke out at a building under construction at San Francisco General Hospital this morning, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The one-alarm fire was reported at 9:32 a.m. in an elevator shaft on the seventh floor of the building at 23rd Street and Potrero Avenue, spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said. The blaze was controlled at 10:18 a.m., she said.

Seven workers suffered smoke inhalation and one was taken to a hospital. A firefighter sustained a minor injury to her arm, Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa said.

Hospital spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said the new building is slated to open at the end of 2015. She didn't yet know the extent of damage from the fire or whether it would affect that timeline. However, Siragusa said he does not believe the damage will cause any significant delays to the project.

Kagan said this is the first problem that has occurred since construction started. "We're very relieved no one was seriously hurt," she said. The blaze did not affect hospital operations, Kagan said.

The fire prompted the closure of Potrero Avenue between 22nd and 24th streets. The street remained closed as of 10:40 a.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Talmadge said crews were doing "hot work," or welding, in the shaft before the fire broke out. The flames were confined to the shaft, Siragusa said.

California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has been notified about the fire, she said.

6-Year-Old Killed by Union City Dog

A 6-year-old Dixon boy visiting family in Union City died Monday after he was mauled by the family's pit bull, Union City police said.

The boy, identified as Nephi Selu, had been playing with the dog in the backyard of a home on Elizabeth Way around 11:30 a.m. when the dog attacked him, biting him on the top of his head, police said.

Nephi was taken to Stanford Hospital and was pronounced dead around 4 p.m., police said. The dog was taken to the Tri-City Animal Shelter in Fremont and will be held for a 10-day quarantine, police said.

The dog owner was distraught but is cooperating with the investigation, police said. The owner told police that the dog has never bitten anyone before.

Police said the boy was playing with the dog and may have tried to climb onto the animal's back.

The dog had been given anti-rabies shots and was properly licensed, according to police.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Union City police at (510) 471-1365.

Motorcycle Crash on Highway 101

A motorcyclist was critically injured in a crash on southbound U.S. Highway 101 in San Francisco this morning, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The crash, which involved the motorcycle and a 36-seat bus, occurred just before 6 a.m. north of the Silver Avenue exit, CHP Officer Mike Ferguson said.

The motorcyclist was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he underwent surgery and is listed in critical condition, he said.

There were no passengers on the bus and the driver was not injured, Ferguson said.

Lanes were blocked after the crash, but the road was cleared at 7:54 a.m., Ferguson said.

New Cafe at AT&T Park 

The San Francisco Giants, one of the most active sports teams on social media, have unveiled a new cafe at AT&T Park dedicated to all of those tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures.

The @Cafe, located behind the centerfield bleachers, is the first social media headquarters located in a ballpark and opened for the first time at tonight's game against the San Diego Padres, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said.

The cafe is a partnership between the team and Peet's Coffee & Tea, which will sell drinks to fans visiting the site.

A 12-foot-by-4-foot screen will show social media posts in real-time from around the world, as well as updated numbers for the number of fans who follow the team on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The Giants lead Major League Baseball in total number of Instagram followers and are fourth on Twitter and Facebook, Baer said.

AT&T Park has the third-most Facebook "check-ins" in the world, behind only Times Square and Disneyland, he said.

Baer said it became obvious during the team's World Series run last year "how much social media tended to dominate everybody's lives in terms of following the Giants." He said, "It's very much a part of our lives ... you can't do business as an organization without a presence on social media."

Bryan Srabian, the team's social media director, said the plans for @Cafe developed over the past three years and that the large screen will show social media posts curated by Giants staff on site.

The cafe will feature special events like Twitter chats with Giants players, and the team will continue enhancing the site throughout this season, Srabian said. The cafe also includes a cellphone charging station, one of 10 such kiosks located around the ballpark.

Death at Colma BART Station

The Colma BART station has reopened following a death on the tracks there this morning.

Emergency officials responded to reports of a victim under a train at about 9:10 a.m., agency spokesman Jim Allison said.

The station was shut down while the San Mateo County coroner's office responded to the scene and BART police conducted an investigation, Allison said.

There was no immediate information about the victim's age or sex.

The station reopened at about 11:20 a.m., a BART employee said. 

BART Experiences Major Delays Tuesday Morning

BART also reported major delays on its Pittsburg-Bay Point and Richmond lines this morning because of an equipment problem.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said there was a trackside problem between the 19th Street-Oakland and MacArthur stations.

He said the issue was not related to the closure of the Colma station.

Repairs to San Francisquito Creek to Prevent Flooding

Residents of a flood-prone neighborhood in East Palo Alto can rest easier now that the first phase of repairs to the San Francisquito Creek bank have been completed.

The creek overflowed in December 2012 and sent mud and debris onto Woodland Avenue, damaging homes and threatening PG&E infrastructure and a portion of the roadway, which had to be closed to traffic.

The damaged section of Woodland Avenue has since been resurfaced and reopened, and the exposed slope of the creek bank has been shored up with mesh, rock, and installation of a new concrete dike, community development director John Doughty said.

"It's a great start," Doughty said. "This will hold for some time to come."

The repair project cost a little over $165,000, Doughty said, though additional work is needed along the waterway.

A bridge over University Avenue needs to be reinforced, and repairs need to be made to "boils" or weak points on the creek levee where high water seeps through and weakens the structure.

The eventual cost of the project could reach $2 million, and the city of East Palo Alto is continuing to pursue financing options for the remainder of the work, Doughty said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the project will be held at 5:30 p.m. today, opposite 1651 Woodland Ave.

One Dead in Sunnyvale Fire

One person was found dead in a single-family home that caught fire early this morning in Sunnyvale, a spokesman for the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said.

The department received a report at 6:04 a.m. of smoke in the 200 block of Central Avenue at East Evelyn Avenue, spokesman Capt. David Pitts said.

Firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames, Pitts said.

As they were putting out the blaze, firefighters found a body inside the home, Pitts said.

The fire was extinguished at about 7:15 a.m.

Pitts said he was not able to confirm the sex or age of the victim, or where in house the body was found. No other injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Six Escape Pinole Candle Fire 

Six people safely escaped a fire at their Pinole home on Monday night that appears to have been sparked by an unattended candle, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District official said.

The blaze was reported at 9:25 p.m. at a house in the 2600 block of Fahey Court, Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard said.

Fire crews arrived to find smoke and flames coming from the one-story home, with the fire threatening to spread to a neighbor's house.

Six adults inside the house had gotten out safely by the time crews arrived, and no injuries were reported, Broschard said.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the room where it started and an adjoining hallway, he said.

Broschard said the fire caused an estimated $80,000 in damage. The displaced residents are planning to stay with relatives, he said.

Concord Police Give 900 Steering Wheel Locks Away

Police in Concord are giving away 900 steering wheel security clubs to drivers who live or work in the city and own the types of cars that thieves target the most.

Owners of operable Honda, Toyota, Nissan or Acura passenger cars manufactured between 1985 and 2005 can head to the Concord Police Department starting today to pick up "The Club", which can be attached to a car's steering wheel, locking it in place, Lt. David Hughes said.

The giveaway, which is funded by money from assets seized in narcotics cases, is part of "Operation Wheel-Lock", a plan to cut thefts of the four most targeted car types in the city.

He said those four car brands have been targeted in more than two-thirds of auto thefts in Concord in recent years.

Hughes said police hope that the effort will pay off by this time next year. "If our theory is true, there will be fewer of these kinds of cars stolen," he said.

While auto thefts have declined markedly in Concord -- from nearly 1,000 stolen in 2008 to 659 in 2012 -- the same types of cars continue to be disproportionately targeted, the lieutenant said. Most of the vehicles stolen have similar ignition security features and were made between 1990 and 2000, he said.

An analysis of car thefts in the city in 2012 showed that the thefts were most often unsophisticated crimes of opportunity, according to police.

The Club, while not 100 percent effective, is an inexpensive and easy deterrent, Hughes said.

By 10 a.m., about 70 people had dropped by the station to pick up one of the anti-theft devices, he said.

Owners of eligible vehicles who want to receive a free club are asked to drive their car to the Police Department at 1350 Galindo St. and to provide DMV registration documents as well as proof that they live or work in Concord.

Clubs are being handed out at the department's community service desk, located on the first floor. Information about the availability of clubs and service desk hours is available at or by calling (925) 671-3220.

Berkeley Power Restored After Morning Outage

Power has been restored to most of the 5,800 customers affected by a power outage in Berkeley this morning, a PG&E spokeswoman said.

The outage started at 8:49 a.m. and affected homes on streets including La Loma, Euclid and Glendale avenues and Virginia Street, spokesman Joe Molica said.

As of 9:40 a.m., the number of customers without power had been reduced to about 3,500, and by 11:30 a.m., that number had dropped to 650, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said.

Power should be fully restored to those customers by mid-afternoon, she said. The cause of the outage has yet to be determined.

Bayview Power Mostly Restored After Morning Outage

An outage in San Francisco's Bayview District knocked out power to 1,770 PG&E customers this morning, a utility spokesman said.

The outage began at about 8:20 a.m., spokesman Joe Molica said. At 9:15 a.m., all but 43 of those affected had power restored, he said.

Molica said at about 9:40 a.m. that the remaining customers were expected to have power back shortly.

Woman Attacked on Muni in Mission District

An elderly woman was attacked while boarding a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus in the city's Mission District on Monday morning, police said today.

The attack occurred at about 11:05 a.m. near Mission and 24th streets.

As the 82-year-old victim got on the bus, she was pushed by another woman, and in turn pushed her back. The second woman then punched the victim several times, causing her to fall out of the bus and hit her head on the sidewalk, police said.

She was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for injuries that are not considered life-threatening, according to police.

The suspect, a woman believed to be between 25 and 28 years old, fled on foot and had not been found as of this morning, police said.

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message. 

Missing Petaluma Man Found in Fairfield

A Petaluma man who went missing on Monday was found safe overnight in Fairfield, a Petaluma police dispatcher said.

John Wirth, 49, was picked up in Fairfield by his family, the dispatcher said.

Wirth went to breakfast with a family member at a McDonald's restaurant in Petaluma around 7:30 a.m. Monday, Sgt. Marty Frye said. After breakfast, the family member left the restaurant and Wirth was supposed to ride home on his red Pacific bicycle, but he was not there when the relative returned home Monday evening, Frye said.

Wirth suffers from a brain injury he sustained in a motorcycle accident years ago and tends to become confused, police said.

Petaluma police announced at about 2 a.m. today that Wirth had been found.

He also went missing on his bicycle last month and was found safe near St. Helena the next day.


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