Two teens admitted setting fire to vegetation in the Sign Hill area south of San Francisco that resulted in evacuations and displaced residents for hours on Friday afternoon, police said.
South San Francisco police said “a watchful resident in the neighborhood” reported seeing two teenage boys leave the area shortly after the fire started, just before noon on Friday. Police said they identified two local minors, aged 14 and 16, as part of their “follow-up investigation” and questioned them.
The couple later admitted to police department investigators that they were “responsible for starting the fire,” police said. Both boys were released to family members as officials continue investigations into the fire, police said.
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All evacuation orders were lifted around the four-alarm vegetation fire, firefighters said.
The fire, which began on the south side of historic Sign Hill, was contained shortly after 2:15 pm, firefighters said. . The evacuation orders were revoked about three hours later.
No injuries were reported and no facilities were destroyed, police said. South San Francisco police officials said the lack of injuries and destruction was “due to the extraordinary efforts of all agencies involved.”
Images captured by fire cameras and social media posts showed plumes of smoke and flames heading towards the 1920s Hillside sign, a historic landmark facing south of San Francisco. The sign was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
According to South San Francisco firefighters, mandatory evacuations were in place for Carnelian Road, Sonja Road, Mountain Road, Ridgeview Court and Viewmont Terrance. A temporary evacuation center has been set up at 33 Arroyo Drive.
The fire broke out in the midst of a red flag alert issued by the National Meteorological Service, indicating a high risk of fire hazard from wind, high temperatures and low humidity that lasts until at least 8am on Saturday.
Cal Fire units witnessed South San Francisco firefighters’ response to the fire, which was dubbed the Diamond Fire. Cal Fire flew helicopters and an aerial fire tanker as part of their firefighting efforts, police said.
A plume of smoke from the fire was visible from space, according to satellite images tweeted by the Bay Area office of the National Weather Service. An east wind was pushing the column of smoke towards the Pacific Ocean and away from San Francisco International Airport, according to the NWS.
Michael Williams and Lauren Hernandez are staff writers for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @michaeldamianw @ByLHernandez