Ghost Ship warehouse fire lawsuits consolidated

Relatives of 18 people who died in the Bay Area Ghost Ship warehouse fire are suing the building's owner, the primary leaseholder and others for wrongful death.

Their individual lawsuits were consolidated into one master complaint Tuesday in Oakland. Lead attorney Mary Alexander says she expects families of the 18 others who died in the Dec. 2 Oakland fire to join the lawsuit.

The 36 who died were attending a concert in the warehouse when the fire broke out.

The consolidated lawsuit also on Tuesday added Pacific Gas & Electric Co. as a defendant.

The lawsuit alleges the utility should have known the warehouse's electrical hookups were hazardous.

Authorities have not determined the fire's cause but have said they are investigating an electrical origin.

PG&E did not immediately return phone and telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy O'Malley says she is investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against the building's owner, Chor Nar Siu Ng, and the building's leaseholder, Derick Almena. Ng and Almena didn't return calls for comment.

Almena organized the concert and charged an entrance fee. He and his family lived in the warehouse and sublet living space to several self-described artists. The warehouse was not licensed for entertainment or residency.

Plaintiffs say the warehouse was a cluttered firetrap and that the owner and leaseholder negligently ignored safety hazards.

Oakland city records show neighbors, residents and visitors complaining to city officials about safety problems, loud parties and other issues with the dilapidated building converted illegally into a living area.

Firefighters and other city officials also were called to the property and adjacent buildings. No citations were ever issued.

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