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Salesforce Tower is not on fire

Steam rising from tallest building alarmed many

A plume rising from the top of Salesforce Tower Wednesday morning alarmed San Franciscans to the point that the Fire Department responded to what some feared might be a blaze high atop the city’s tallest building.

But the offending vapor turned out to be steam rather than smoke; there is no danger to the structure.

At around 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the San Francisco Fire Department’s public information officer confirmed via Twitter, “SFFD responded to a reported smoke investigation at Sales Force [sic] Tower, 415 Mission. This is steam from a vent, not a fire.”

The call happened simultaneously with an SF memorial event honoring firefighters who lost their lives in New York City on September 11, 2001.

The confluence of the anniversary of the terror attacks and the seeming disaster at one of San Francisco’s own landmark high-rises proved particularly unsettling for some observers.

A spokesperson for Boston Properties, the developer that owns Salesforce Tower, told SFGate that the visible phenomena was just “condensation was from the start-up process of the building systems.”

In fact, like most buildings, Salesforce Tower lets off some steam every morning, but the visibility of the exhaust depends on things like how clear the sky is, what ambient temperatures are like 1,070 feet above Mission Street, and how busy the ventilation systems are on a particular morning.

By the time fire crews left the building the plume was no longer visible.