L.A. Now

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Oakland warehouse residents' harrowing survival stories: ‘Oh my God, all of these people died in our home.'

Carmen Brito woke up Friday night to smoke and an orange glow coming from the corner. She’d had a long day at work and happened to go to bed with her clothes on. 

In the time it took her to put on her coat and shoes, a wall that was 20 feet from where she was standing was on fire. 

Brito rushed toward the front door of the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship.

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Oakland warehouse fire leaves community of artists reeling and fearful of a crackdown

For artists, this city’s collection of warehouses is a blank canvas, places where they can live, paint, craft and perform. They’re also a refuge, their makeshift interiors providing an oasis of affordability in a region of California swamped by rising costs.

But sometimes finding a cheap, creative space means looking the other way on building code violations.

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When loved ones couldn't track those missing in Oakland fire, they found answers on social media

In the desperate hours after the warehouse inferno — long before Oakland officials would release the identities of the charred bodies found inside — family and friends tried to cobble together information online.

From around California, as well as across the country and abroad, they signed onto Twitter and Facebook and shared hospital numbers and an evolving list of possible victims.

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Oakland warehouse had hosted parties, despite safety concerns of former residents

They happen all the time, all around the country: unpermitted dance parties put on by artists, promoters and others who bypass official channels to give fans an opportunity to revel in their music.

Often, there isn’t much money to be made. Those involved in the scene can play multiple roles — entrepreneur, performer and host — to make them happen.

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Death toll in Oakland fire climbs to 33 as families, friends fear the worst

They had come together out of their love for electronic music and the underground scene that it fostered. The concert had been in the works for almost two months, billed on social media as a tour for the musicians associated with the L.A.-based label 100% Silk.

The location was secret until shortly before the show.

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A woman's frantic, anguished Facebook search for friend missing in Oakland fire

When Carol Crewdson heard one of her friends went dancing at the Oakland warehouse, she knew she had to spread the word.

A “big Facebooker,” she began to write.“Oh my god, Sara Hoda is missing in this fire. I kept hoping that if I posted people would tell me she emerged unscathed but as more information rolls in that doesn't seem to be the case,” Crewdson, 33, wrote.

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