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With smoke and fire raging around him, 13-year-old Alessandro Gonzalez said one final prayer before jumping from the fire escape on the second floor. A San Francisco police officer caught him.

“I’m just happy I’m alive,” said Gonzalez on Jan. 29, the morning after the fire that destroyed his home at 22nd and Mission streets. “I thank god, ‘cause I coulda died in there.”

District 9 Supervisor David Campos acknowledged Gonzalez on Feb. 3 for his bravery the night of the fire, in front of Gonzalez’s family and Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

“In my book, you are a true hero,” Hayes-White said. “You helped us save many lives.”

Gonzalez called 911 after he heard running and screaming in the hallway, thinking someone was trying to break into his home. The dispatcher informed Gonzalez there was a fire and that he should get out.

In a panic, the 7th-grader at Thomas Edison Charter Academy shattered the window to get to the fire escape. In attempting to save his dog ‘Buddy,’ Gonzalez threw him to onlookers below.

“I was worried more about him, because you know, he’s little and he might get hurt,” Gonzalez said.

Since the blaze, an outpour of support has continued in the form of GoFundMe accounts, including one for the late Mauricio Orellana. 61 people in 11 days donated over $3,000 to send Orellana’s body back to El Salvador.

“We’re in the business of saving lives. So it was very difficult for us,” Hayes-White said.

Zack Crockett, 26, took the initiative to start a GoFundMe campaign for displaced residents.

“Wednesday night I rode my bike by the fire and just saw people filming. Family members were distressed, and not much help was there,” Crocket said.

That night, he started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $2,000. Overnight, Crocket raised $7,000, and $35,000 by the end of Thursday. He has since teamed up with the Mission Economics Development Agency (MEDA) to see how the money will be used. He has raised the goal one last time to $200,000. He has raised $180,545 by Wednesday, Feb.18.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for people who have lived here in the mission for 50, 60 years,” he said. “This is their home and they deserve to stay.”

—Alexis Terrazas, Joel Angel Juárez and Bridgid Skiba contributed to this report.

Yanira Hernandez who lived on the third floor of the building at 22nd and Mission streets for 20 years, mourns the loss of her home on Jan. 29. Photo Bridgid Skiba

I was working when the fire happened. My husband saved two people’s lives during the fire. He was taken to the hospital because of the smoke he inhaled and is OK now. But we lost everything. Everything burned in the fire. — Yanira Hernandez, 49

 

 

Lucia Flores, Yanira Hernandez and Milagro Rodriguez eat dinner at an emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross at the Salvation Army Mission Corps in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday night (Feb. 5, 2015) after their apartment was burned on Jan. 28, leaving them displaced. Photo Joel Angel Juárez
Milagro Rodriguez hugs Salvation Army Capt. Angie Carcamo as she receives birthday gifts at an emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross at the Salvation Army Mission Corps in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday night (Feb. 5, 2015) after her apartment was burned down on Jan. 28, leaving her displaced. She lived on the third floor at 22nd and Mission streets for 14 years. Photo Joel Angel Juárez

I was asleep when the fire happened. Yanira’s husband knocked on my door loudly waking me up saying that there was a fire. I was taken to the hospital because my pressure was high. I was given a respirator because of all the smoke I inhaled. I felt bad, lots of memories stayed there. Everything was burned. — Milagro Rodriguez, 37

Milagro Rodriguez, 37, blows out her birthday candles at an emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross at the Salvation Army Mission Corps in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday night (Feb. 5, 2015) after her apartment was burned down on Jan. 28, leaving her displaced. Photo Joel Angel Juárez
Jorge Gómez, right, and Maria Pinto, left, eat dinner at an emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross at the Salvation Army Mission Corps in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday night (Feb. 5, 2015) after their apartment was burned down on Jan. 28, leaving them displaced. Photo Joel Angel Juárez

I was inside the apartment making dinner and [Maria] heard the firefighters in the building. There was no alarm in the entire building, no fire extinguisher and no sprinklers in the apartment. Now we have no place to live. — Jorge Gómez, 57

Sandra Tenorio, Ivette Posas and her 2-year-old daughter, Stephanie Quinteros, sit in a dining hall at an emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross at the Salvation Army Mission Corps in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday night (Feb. 5, 2015) after their apartment was burned down on Jan. 28, leaving them displaced. Photo Joel Angel Juárez
Alicia Hasper, a native of Argentina who shared an office for an acupuncture and massage business with Brazil native Valeria Lannes on the second floor of 2590 Mission St., tries to salvage some of her belongings on Feb. 5. Photo Alexis Terrazas

There is no comparison. But to put things into perspective, just thinking of what the people on the third floor, they lost everything just about. I lost my place of work … I tried to put things into perspective. That my loss, compared to other people’s loss, is not so total. But it’s still really painful. — Alicia Hasper

Valeria Lannes of Brazil, who shared an acupuncture and massage office with Alicia Hasper at 22nd and Mission streets, carries a bag full of her belonging on Feb. 5, 2015. Lannes was one of the building’s occupants who questioned whether the fire was accidental. Photo Alexis Terrazas

It’s terrible to think like that. But with all these new buildings coming up, who knows. — Valeria Lannes

Alicia Hasper, right, rejoices alongside Valeria Lannes after the two were able to salvage equipment from their charred acupuncture and massage office, located on the second floor at 22nd and Mission streets on Feb. 5, 2015. Their office was destroyed by the Jan. 28 fire. Photo Alexis Terrazas

Other areas are very much destroyed. My room is damaged, but not totally ruined. This really helped my hurt. — Alicia Hasper