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Neighbors Rally to Support San Francisco Dog Walker Whose Home Was Gutted by Fire This Week

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San Francisco fire crews rescued two adults from the upper floors of a home that burned on the 900 block of Grove Street on May 21, 2024. (San Francisco Fire Department)

Neighbors are rallying around a San Francisco dog walker and his family after a fire gutted their home near Alamo Square Park on Tuesday. The fire came after Terry Williams was the target of two racist threats in the past month.

Neighbors described Williams as an essential part of their community. Bruce Hill said Williams is the person who lets you know if your side door is open, or if anything else is amiss. “He looks after us and now we’re looking after him,” Hill said.

The fire erupted around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the three-story home that Williams shares with his parents, according to the fire department.

Will Hughes, who lives next door to the Williams family, said the fire department responded quickly, rescuing Terry’s mother from the home.


The fire is still under investigation by the San Francisco Police and Fire Departments.

Meanwhile, San Francisco police are investigating the racist incidents directed at Williams. Packages left at his front door contained racist slurs, death threats and a doll painted in blackface. No arrests have been made.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the neighborhood, said he did not want to get ahead of the investigations being performed by the police and fire departments, but that “we’re extremely concerned about the timing.”

“It’s definitely really alarming that this occurred just weeks after all of this really vile harassment of the family,” Preston said in an interview Wednesday.

Preston introduced a resolution last week urging city departments to prioritize investigation into the threats directed at Williams and his family. In light of the fire, the Board of Supervisors amended the resolution and passed it unanimously on Tuesday night.

While neighbors expressed overwhelm and sadness, they also have found meaning coming together to support Terry and his family.

“This neighborhood is already pretty close,” said Hughes, “I’ve only gotten closer with the community through all this. Terry and the dogs are so visible. Everyone knows them, everyone has a relationship with them.”

The community has created a gofundme for the Williams and are organizing a block party on Sunday afternoon to generate more donations.

“There is a lot of support in the community for Terry and his family. And they’re going to need it, not just now, but in the many months ahead,” said Preston.

The police department asks that anyone with information call the SFPD Tip Line at +1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD, and that you may remain anonymous.

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