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Broken Windows, Falling Glass Prompt A Shelter-In-Place Order In Downtown San Francisco

The San Francisco fire department closed streets around 555 California St.

Workers at San Francisco’s fourth-tallest building were ordered to shelter in place Tuesday, after two windows cracked, with one shattering completely and raining glass down on the streets below.

The skyscraper at 555 California St. in downtown shed glass onto the street below, endangering nearby pedestrians and prompting a shelter-in-place order for several hours. Firefighters from the San Francisco Fire Department escorted workers out of surrounding buildings as they got off work around 5 p.m., according to the San Francisco Business Times. No injuries were reported. 

Roads around the office building, which rises 52 stories and 779 feet above downtown San Francisco, remained closed into Tuesday evening, but officials said office workers could access their workplace in and around the building on Wednesday. 

The building was constructed in 1969 and is owned by Vornado Realty Trust. The Trump Organization has a 30% stake in the 1.3M SF high-rise. Trump’s stake was one of his largest holdings as of 2020, according to a report by NPR

The building was put on a lender watchlist in February. 

The damage was likely caused by high winds that struck the Bay Area as the latest in a series of storms that have marched through Northern California in one of the wettest winters in the region’s recorded history. Wind gusts as high as 74 miles per hour were reported at San Francisco Airport on Tuesday. 

“One of those windows completely broke and that's the glass that we see on the ground and the streets below the building,” said Jonathan Baxter, spokesperson for San Francisco Fire. “A second window sustained some cracking and is compromised.”

San Francisco has struggled with its downtown corridor, as problems with the persistent sinking and tilting of the Millennium tower have come to symbolize problems with the high-rise infrastructure in the city’s famed financial district. 

There are more than 200 high-rises in San Francisco. In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a study that found 39 of the city’s skyscrapers were welded in such a way to make them vulnerable to a forceful earthquake. The building at 555 California St., or the “Triple Nickel” as it is colloquially known, was one of the buildings listed.