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Fire relief arrives for North Beach businesses

San Francisco officials have activated an emergency fund for the seven businesses damaged by a massive fire in North Beach on Saturday night, Mayor Mark Farrell announced Monday.

The fire impacted more than 50 workers on Columbus Avenue and Union Street, according to the mayor’s office.

Coit Liquors, Ferry Plaza Seafood, Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe, The Salzburg, Rogue Ales Public House, Jack Lee Fong Insurance Agency and Michelangelo Cafe suffered water damage, fire damage or both.

The small business disaster relief fund will provide each business up to $10,000 to replace inventory, purchase equipment, pay security deposits, pay employee salaries and stabilize cash flow.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in a statement:

“North Beach is a community that prides itself on taking care of our neighbors. … We will need the city’s laser focus and support in the coming months to ensure that the 500 block of Columbus Avenue remains intact.”

The immediate weeks after a disaster are critical to a business’s future, the mayor’s office said. The emergency fund will help businesses while they wait for insurance payments or disaster loans.

The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development manages the disaster recovery fund. The office assessed the damage on Union Street this weekend to provide direct assistance to business owners, according to the mayor’s office.

Daniel Macchiarini, president of the North Beach Business Association, said in a statement:

“We want our merchants and their employees back on their feet as quickly as possible, and these funds, together with community support, will provide some immediate and welcome relief after this tragic event.”

The blaze at 659 Union St. between Powell Street and Columbus Avenue was reported around 7:30 p.m. Saturday and devastated the three-story building, fire officials said.

The fire was contained at about 9 p.m., and firefighters stayed at the scene overnight to make sure the flames didn’t rekindle.

The building that went up in flames had businesses in the lower level and 27 vacant residential units in the upper levels, according to fire officials. The cause and the origin of the fire are still under investigation.

Eight people had been displaced from their homes because of the fire. As of Sunday morning an evacuation center had been set up at 1450 Powell St. where people were getting help from the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

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