This film shows the partial burning of a small-scale model of downtown San Francisco in an early attempt at simulating the 1906 disaster. The model is seen in aerial view from above the South-of-Market district, looking northwest toward Market Street and the downtown area. Russian Hill (left) and Telegraph Hill (right) are shown in a painted background. The Call Building at 3rd and Market streets is modelled at left center, and the Ferry Building (Market and East streets) is shown at right. Market Street and downtown have been greatly shortened between the two enlarged model building. In reality, the location of the initial fires was more widely scattered than is shown, with many more blazes beginning out of view, at left, and a few more north of the Ferry Building. Note the heavy puffs of smoke wafted in from the left, both to give the impression of a rapidly spreading conflagration and to put out the flames for the final "smoking ruins" view. In fact, every part of the city shown (except a few small pockets) burned over a three day period.
According to the AFI catalog, film beginnings, 1893-1910, this film was incorporated into a longer film, also called San Francisco, which additionally included Scenes in San Francisco (Biograph production no. 3171 and 3172) and Views in San Francisco (Biograph production no. 3173). According the Biograph bulletins, 1908-1912, p. 244, the footage for the longer film was about 1,000 feet.