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[Easy Chair]

Coming Apart


In early 2015, fire ravaged a three-story building at the corner of 22nd and Mission in San Francisco. The blaze killed Mauricio Orellana, an immigrant from El Salvador, and destroyed the homes of around sixty people, the offices of many small businesses, and the thriving food hall on the ground floor, which had included a taqueria, a produce store, a florist’s, a butcher, and a fish-and-poultry shop. There had been so many fires in the Mission District that some suspected landlord arson, but officials blamed faulty wiring. The building was left as it was, and by the spring of 2016, the grand old structure had so deteriorated from neglect and water damage that the city ordered it demolished, eliminating the tenants’ right to return.

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