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July 11, 1981 - Image 1

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1981-07-11

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TheMichigan Daily1

Vol. XCI, No. 38-S

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Saturday, July 11, 1981

Ten Cents

Twelve Pages

Largest fire
since 1906
erupts in
San Francisco

AP Photo
SAN FRANCISCO FIREMEN train hoses on a pre-dawn, five-alarm fire that
swept through as many as 20 buildings in a downtown area yesterday. The
-fire was San Francisco's largest since the 1906 earthquake.
dnounces allegati~onsl

dawn fire that erupted in an abandoned
bathhouse quickly turned into the
largest blaze in the city since the 1906.
earthquake, collapsing one building
and roaring through as many as 20
others yesterday, including several
apartment buildings.
"Since the 1906 fire, this is the first
fire this big," Fire Chief Andrew
Casper said. "We have a true disaster
on our hands."
SOME MINOR injuries were repor-
ted, but the large number of apartment
houses that were burning made it im-
possible for officials to tell if there were
any casualties.
Fire officials said they feared some
people may have been trapped in the
burning apartment buildings, known to
be homosexual gathering places and
reported to contain loclled "slave"
quarters used by sadomasochists.
THE BLAZE, which grew to the fire
department's highest five-alarm
designation only 20 minutes after it was
reported at 2:16 a.m., enveloped a half-,
block area of Folsom Street between
7th and 8th.
It's "toe largest area fire I've seen in
my career working in the fire depar-
tment," Casper said.
Broken gas mains fedthe flames that
licked high into San Francisco's night
sky until gas company crews arrived to
close them off.
CASPER SAID firefighters had the
blaze contained to the one-block area by
3:50 a.m., but he said he expected it to
continue burning into the morning
commute hour.
The fire's origin, he said, was
The blaze, officials said, apparently
started in an abandoned bathhouse on
Folsom street and exploded a gas main.
IT SPREAD to quarters used for
sadomasochistic practices, into a
warehouse where a sex potion was

stored and went on to burn the other
mostly wooden, three-story buildings
housing apartment dwellers.
The presence of the sex potion, a so-
called stimulant named "Rush" kept in
the warehouse at the back of the
bathhouse, made the fire's origin
suspicious, officials said.
Assistant Fire Chief Ray Landi, head
of an arson task force, said the fire
"progressed a lot faster than normal."
He said members of the homosexual
community reported cases of the highly
flammable "Rush" were illegally
stored in the warehouse.
JAY FREEZER, owner of some of
the burned property, was ordered to
remove "Rush" from another location
earlier because of the fire hazard.
The city's entire compliment of 200
firefighters on duty were called to the
South of Market area to battle the blaze
as it leaped from rooftop to rooftop.
"We have called in the fire shift that
would have come in at 8 a.m.," a fire
spokesman said. "Almost all our
equipment is there."
ESTIMATES OF the damage done by
the blaze, made while flames were still
licking the sides of some buildings,
ranged up to $2 million.
As firefighters battled the blaze,
crowds of area residents and curious
onlookers gathered.
Along Langton Street, lined with rows
of wood-frame apartment houses built
with common walls, residents rushed to
the street carrying whatever
possessions they could.
"The fire is on our back porch," said
Rene Savatini, a Langton Street
resident. "I got everything I could
carry out of my apartment in one arm
load. Now'I just hope the rest doesn't
burn up." .
"The apartment house next door was
real nice," said an unidentified friend
of Savatini. "They had real nice sun
decks, but now it's fry city."

Daily staff writer
The recent controversial death in
Taiwan of former University graduate
student Chen Wen-Chen has revealed
the sharp division of the Taiwanese
community at the University between
two distinct factions.
Spokesmen for the Free China
Student Association, a. Michigan
Student Assembly-sponsored group,
said that allegations that government
spies are operating through the FCSA
are totally unfounded and have caused
them embarrassment.
"I'M NOT A secret agent. When those
people say I'm a secret agent I feel so
bad,"esaid one FCSA member who has
been in the student organization for
three years.
A previous article in The Michigan

Daily stated that certain Taiwanese
students who reportedly make up the
other known faction in the conflict, said
they believe there are Taiwanese
government agents operating in the
student group. According to these sour-
ces, the "spies" are monitoring the ac-
tions of Teiwanese students at the
University and reporting any dissident
activities back to the home country.
One former FCSA official had
declared he "knew at least one" agent
working for Taiwan's government in
the 200-member student group, but he
declined to give his name - apparently
for fear of retribution.
The two spokesmen from the FCSA
also requested anonymity, one saying,
"If you list my name, I'll be a target."
But he said he will list his name along
See STUDENT, Page5

University medical researchers announced another in
a series of medical breakthroughs in the fight against
cancer. See story on Page 3.
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