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Investigators Find Remains of 2nd Victim in Warehouse Fire

April 7, 1986

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Investigators today found the remains of a second person killed in an explosion and fire that wiped out 126 businesses in a sprawling warehouse and caused $10 million damage.

Authorities hunted for five more people missing and feared dead since the blast Friday afternoon at Bayview Industrial Park.

Neither the body found today nor that discovered Sunday under heaps of rubble was immediately identified, officials said.

″It was so hot in there, it was like a crematorium,″ Fire Capt. Richard Crispin said Sunday.

Investigators are satisfied that the explosion was caused by lacquer spraying, Crispin said. A high-pressure lacquer sprayer was used in a carpentry shop in the warehouse, and a spark could have ignited the lacquer, he said.

On Sunday, Ann Shoemaker of Buffalo, N.Y., said she believed her 27-year- old son, Bob, was working at a furniture refinishing business in the warehouse when the blaze broke out, and may have died in the fire.

″I want to have hope (but) I don’t think he survived,″ Mrs. Shoemaker told WKBW-TV in Buffalo.

Crispin said Shoemaker was among the missing.

The fire investigator said the missing also included a man who had been in a first-floor bathroom when the building collapsed. The man, identified as Francisco Perla, 40, was a recent immigrant from El Salvador who only four days earlier had started a job as a packer at the warehouse.

Crispin said the other missing were Frank Wallis, in his early 30s; Patty Livingston, in her early 30s; an unidentified 7-year-old boy; Phillip Marta, 19, and a seventh person for whom Crispin provided no details.

Mrs. Livingston’s father was ″still holding out hope that she perhaps got struck on the head and is suffering from amnesia and is wandering around alive,″ said her sister-in-law, Laurie Livingston.

Kalani Desha, Perla’s boss, said Perla had told him minutes before the explosion how happy he was at finding work so that he could save money to bring his wife and four children out of their impoverished and war-torn homeland.

Desha said metal shelves saved him and three other men when the ceiling collapsed. He said he was knocked unconscious and was pulled out by another employee, and tried to look for Perla when he recovered.

″I tried to go down after him, but everything had fallen in,″ said Desha, who was released from a hospital Sunday. ″He was just 20 feet away, just 20 feet away.″

Larry Borsian, who shared shop space with Wallis and Shoemaker, said Shoemaker had asked his girlfriend to marry him a few days earlier.

An artist, Jeffrey Long, suffered broken ribs but managed to crawl out of the building on a piece of the shattered roof. Long said he thought San Francisco had been hit by the biggest earthquake since 1906.

″But I feel lucky, very lucky,″ he said.

The fire at the three-story warehouse complex injured at least 20 people.

Three of the injured remained at San Francisco General Hospital today. Two were in critical condition and one was stable, said a nursing supervisor who would not give her name.

Seven million gallons of water were sprayed onto the fire, officials said.

The 126 small businesses at the complex included sheet-metal shops, artists’ studios, a photography lab and carpentry shops.

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