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Fire at Pier 45 Devastates San Francisco’s Working Waterfront

Early Saturday morning, a four-alarm fire broke out on Pier 45 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but the devastation wrought on the fishing and crabbing industry, which was already suffering from the pandemic, cannot be overstated. The warehouse stored some $9 million worth of fishing gear, according to KQED News; about 30 crabbers and fisherman lost up to $300,000 each in equipment.

Some 120 firefighters heroically fought the blaze. There was no loss of life, but an already-suffering fishing industry is reeling from the devastation.
© 2020 San Francisco Maritime national Park Association

According to KQED, the Port of San Francisco requires tenants to have insurance. “As of Sunday, the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association said it was unsure how much of the equipment loss insurance would cover — if any at all.”

A tangle of firehouses on Saturday in the Embarcadero.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Mitch

“The business of crabbing is an inextricable part of what San Francisco is. It’s part of our reputation and our economy,” San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Fisherman’s Wharf, was quoted as saying by KQED. “We’ve got a little bit of time between now and November to figure this thing out, but if it’s a philanthropic campaign or assistance, we need to get the crabbers back on their feet.”

That’s not fog on the Embarcadero on Saturday, it’s smoke surrounding the Jeremiah O’Brien. The Liberty ship, which was threatened by the inferno, but ultimately saved, moved to its new home at Pier 35 yesterday, according to KQED. “Matt Lasher, director of the National Liberty Ship Memorial, the nonprofit group that manages the Jeremiah O’Brien, said he hopes the ship will one day return to Pier 45 after the structure has been repaired,” KQED reported.
© 2020 Monique Selvester

“Pier 45 is the heart and soul of commercial fishing out of the Bay Area,” Larry ‘Diver Duck’ Collins, the head of the San Francisco Community Fishing Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “To take a hit like this, it’s a bad one. Most people don’t think about where their salmon, crab or black cod come from, but that’s where: It’s Pier 45.”


  1. Jocelyn 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for the article! If anyone would like to donate to help the crabbers and fishers recover, here is a link:

  2. milly Biller 3 years ago

    As an ex Commercial Salmon fisherwoman, This is very very painful to see. It was always life on the edge without something like that

  3. Dennis Bailey 3 years ago

    I know it’s a sad loss for the fishermen, but looks like some rest for a lot of sea life.

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