Warehouse fire deadliest in Oakland since the great Oakland Hills fire of 1991
The fire is likely to be the deadliest in several years in California and the most destructive in the East Bay since the great 1991 Oakland Hills fire, which killed 25 people and injured 150 others.
Warriors hold moment of silence for victims of Oakland warehouse fire
Panic, anguish, frustration as families await word of the missing
All day, family and friends have frantically sought answers about the whereabouts of loved ones who attended the concert at the Oakland warehouse that caught fire Friday night.
Here’s where that search stands:
--Authorities say that about two dozen missing people have been found alive.
--At least two dozen are still missing. And officials fear many of them, if not all, might be dead inside the building.
--The death toll stands at nine, but is expected to rise.
--Oakland officials said they have set up a center where families can stay and await word.
--Officials said it might take two more days to find all of the victims.
Oakland warehouse ‘was a tinderbox,’ neighbors say
People who previously lived in the warehouse recalled a building that lacked fire sprinklers and had a staircase partly made of wooden pallets. Partygoers recalled a rabbit warren of rooms crammed with belongings — pianos, organs, antique furniture, doors and half-finished sculptures.
“It was a tinderbox,” said Brooke Rollo, 30, who lives less than a mile from the scene of the fire and had gone to parties at the warehouse.
Photos on the warehouse’s Tumblr page show a maze of rooms, with walls and dividers made from pianos, boxes, salvaged doors and other materials. Wooden rafters were adorned with hanging lanterns, holiday lights, bicycles, stereo equipment and exposed wiring.
Ben Brandrett, a mental health researcher living in San Francisco, attended a performance at the warehouse and noticed that a staircase didn’t have a banister. “I remember thinking, ‘This seems sketchy,’” he said.
‘There are bodies that have been seen but have not yet been reached’
There are bodies that have been seen but have not yet been reached. There are bodies trapped in there that we need to cut from the wreckage. We don’t even know how far into the process we are. We really, truly don’t know how many deceased there are.
— Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Kelly
Some of the missing have been found alive, but death toll expected to grow significantly after Oakland fire
Authorities said they would work through the night to recover more victims of the a deadly fire that raced through a converted warehouse crowded with people attending a Friday night concert.
Nine bodies have been recovered, but Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials were prepared for up to 40 fatalities. He said many of those inside the warehouse were young, some from foreign countries.
At an evening press conference, Kelly said that about two dozen people who at one point were believed missing have been found. But at least two dozen remain missing, and officials believe the death toll will increase considerably as searchers make their way through the remains of the building. The building’s roof caved in, and debris will make the search effort difficult, Kelly said.
Concertgoer left warehouse concert to get alcohol just before fire consumed building
Seung Lee arrived a little after 11 p.m. to the Ghost Ship warehouse to catch the concert with two friends.
They walked through the building’s maze-like first floor before heading upstairs where as many as 30 concertgoers were listening to live music, Lee said. One of them suggested they get some alcohol, so they headed to a nearby liquor store around 11:15 p.m.
A short time later, they returned to find thick, black smoke pouring out of the first floor windows of the warehouse and flames shooting out of the back of the building, he said.
“I froze in disbelief,” said Lee, who immediately called 911. “The hardest thing I’m having trouble processing are the people on the second floor. I saw them dancing and having a fun time and 10 minutes later they are trapped in this inferno.”
Lee, 24, a freelance journalist, said the only way up to the second floor was by climbing a wooden staircase and he didn’t notice any other exits on the second floor. There were about 60 to 70 people in the warehouse, Lee said.
“It was my first time there. I’m not a very big rave guy to begin with. I took a chance to go to a cool rave place and it just happened to turn into a national tragedy,” he said.
An artist’s take on the deadly Oakland warehouse fire
Watch Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf discuss deadly fire
Memorial growing at Oakland warehouse fire scene
4 bodies removed from burned warehouse; cadaver dogs likely to be brought in to help
Officials are bringing in cranes, bulldozers and excavating equipment to cut a hole through the west side of the burned warehouse to gain access.
They are looking at bringing in cadaver dogs and are fingerprinting the bodies as they come across them in the building.
Here’s why officials don’t know how many people died in Oakland warehouse fire
Here’s where we stand on casualties from the Oakland warehouse fire.
--9 people confirmed dead.
--Officials expect to find more fatalities but said they are not sure how many. An Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman said officials were preparing for up to 40 fatalities. But they have also said that 25 people are unaccounted for.
--At least 12 people survived the fire. One went to a hospital for treatment.
--City officials are meeting with the family and friends of the missing.
--The search for bodies has been slowed by structural problems with the building.
What it looked like inside Oakland warehouse before the deadly fire
Warehouse that burned in deadly fire was an accident waiting to happen, neighbor says
Kevin Longton, who lives at the Vulcan Lofts, less than a mile from where the fire took place, said the warehouse was well-known for holding rave-style dance parties. He went to one about a year ago, never saw any sprinklers and felt the place was an accident waiting to happen.
“It was a tinderbox,” Longton said.
Inside, he said, were two floors with a huge open space on the first floor with lots of nooks and crannies. People had cordoned off loft-style sections on the first floor and decorated them with different fabrics and curtains. More than two dozen old pianos were strewn about the floor.
“There were people living there,” Longton said. “I’m sure of that.”
Death toll likely to rise as search of Oakland warehouse continues
Firefighters were beginning to move through the burned-out remains of the building looking for victims. The building’s roof caved in, and debris will make the search effort difficult.
As of 2:20 p.m., officials said the number of fatalities remained at nine but that the search was continuing.
But they stressed that the death toll was likely to rise — by how much remains unclear.
City investigated safety code violations at Oakland warehouse where deadly fire broke out
Oakland inspectors were investigating the owner of the warehouse for illegal construction inside the building before Friday’s deadly fire erupted.
A complaint filed on Nov. 14 for “illegal interior building structure” was still under review, city officials said Saturday.
An earlier complaint over trash and debris around the building resulted in a building code violation for blight, city records show.
“This property is a storage [facility], but the owner turned it into a trash recycle site ... and the main building was remodel for residential,” the complaint says.
City building and safety officials said Saturday afternoon that the building was permitted for use as a warehouse, not for housing.
They said that a party or concert at the property would have required a permit, which had not been granted.
Images of grief, shock from deadly Oakland warehouse fire
Owner of Oakland warehouse says no one lived in building, daughter says
The warehouse is owned by Chor N. Ng, said her daughter, Eva Ng, 36. She said the warehouse was leased as studio space for an art collective and not used as a dwelling.
“Nobody lived there,” she told The Times, adding: “It was an art collective.”
She said she had asked her leaseholders about the issue and been reassured nobody lived in the building. “They confirmed multiple times. They said sometimes some people worked through the night but that is all,” she said.
The second floor had two exits, both reached by wooden stairs, she said, adding she believes it also had smoke detectors. She was not familiar with comments by fire officials that the stairs consisted of stacked packing crates.
Ng said her mother felt terrible about the tragedy.
Neighbors had complained about Oakland warehouse before deadly fire, councilman says
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, who represents the district where the fire broke out, said neighbors have regularly complained about the building – particularly regarding piles of trash and debris outside.
“We would complain to the manager that they had all that nonsense outside of his building, blocking sidewalks, blocking streets. And … he always had an attitude,” Gallo said.
The councilman said he did not know whether people were living in the warehouse. Asked if the building had residential permits, he said: “Absolutely not.”
“The reality is, there are many facilities being occupied without permits,” he said. “They’re occurring on Oakland’s streets, especially in neighborhoods like mine.”
Gov. Brown offers condolences to Oakland warehouse fire victims
Oakland warehouse fire a ‘mass casualty event’
Nine people were confirmed dead in Friday night’s fire at an Oakland warehouse, with authorities preparing for a “mass casualty event.” As of noon, police said, none of the bodies had been removed from the building.
“The building is very tricky to work with,” said Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly at a midday news conference Saturday at the scene of the fire. “Water is still coming down through the wreckage and debris. It’s just a task to get through the front door. Any misstep could mean someone falls through the floor.
The casualties are believed to be people in their 20s and 30s. Police are still gathering information on the building’s history and what it was used for, but it was understood to be a studio where “young people met up, socialized and networked,” Kelly said.
Police are not speculating as to the cause of the fire, but an investigation is underway.
“We will be at this crime scene for days to come,” Kelly said. “We’re not going to speculate. Something as simple as a cigarette can start a fire.”
Blinding smoke as people try to flee burning Oakland warehouse
Around 12:30 a.m., two of the people who escaped the Oakland warehouse fire were standing in the doorway of Reed Supply, a store across the street. Al Garcia, the store’s co-owner, said the pair — who told him they were 17 and 18 years old — were crying and saying they had struggled to get out of the party.
“They said that black billowing smoke was coming down the stairs,” said Garcia, 62. “They couldn’t see anything in front of them, anything behind them. The only reason they got out was they heard voices outside. The voices directed them to where they were going.”
The teens said they paid $10 to get into the warehouse party, which they found online, Garcia said.
Oakland hospitals inundated with calls after warehouse fire
Officials said that local Oakland hospitals have been flooded with calls from worried family and friends in the wake of the deadly warehouse fire.
But officials said that most of those inside the warehouse either got out and that there were relatively few people transported to hospitals.
Cause of deadly Oakland fire unclear; warehouse not a crime scene at this time
The cause of the fire was unknown at midday Saturday. While arson is not now suspected, Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said investigators were on the scene and nothing had been ruled out.
Officials said the warehouse was not currently considered a crime scene.
Neighbors describe inferno at Oakland warehouse that killed at least 9
Rolando Jacobo, 41, the owner of nearby memorial headstone store Oakland Monuments, opened at 10 a.m. Saturday but had spent most of his morning standing outside his store, watching firefighters pull debris from a burned-out warehouse.
“I saw the fire when I was passing on the freeway last night, and I didn’t know if it was my building on fire,” he said.
Lee Leon, 50, a custodian at the Native American Health Center, got a call at 2 a.m. from a friend who also was driving on freeway and saw the fire. Leon arrived at the Health Center, about a block away from the fire, shortly after 2. He took photos and called his boss to let him know that the Health Center was fine.
Both Leon and Jacobo said neighbors knew that the warehouse was being used as an art studio and that people also lived there. The warehouse often held private events “such as art shows,” but Leon, who has worked at the center for 17 years, said the residents were “low key.”
Dramatic videos show early moments of deadly Oakland fire
Here are some videos showing early moments in the deadly Oakland warehouse fire.
Site of deadly Oakland fire is known as the GhostShip
At 10 a.m. Saturday, firefighters were dismantling one of the doors to the blackened building, which was covered with graffiti and had the word “GhostShip” painted outside. Sidewalks in front of the building were strewn with couches, window frames and other debris, and a charred smell permeated the air.
Witnesses said the warehouse was a collective where artists lived and worked.
The building was the site of a concert Friday night called the Golden Donna 100% Silk 2016 West Coast Tour, according to a concert Facebook page.
Through the early-morning hours, people used the page to seek information about friends and loved ones who attended the concert. Some listed the names of missing people and posted their photos, hoping to learn their fates.
“Making a new post with the names we currently have missing at the Sheriff’s office. PLEASE comment if you know 100% if any of these people are safe,” one person wrote.
“The police have asked for missing people’s photos and identifying features. Piercings, tattoos, clothing they were wearing, weight, birthday, hair color etc. they asked to post on this Facebook event. Please post info here,” wrote another.
Unsafe conditions make search for more bodies difficult in Oakland warehouse fire
Nine bodies have been recovered, but Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials were prepared for up to 40 fatalities.
Authorities said the search for more victims has been delayed because of safety concerns. The building’s roof caved in and debris will make the effort difficult, Kelly said. Firefighters will be sending drones with thermal imaging equipment into the building.
Photos from the scene of the Oakland warehouse fire
Firefighters assess the scene where a fire tore through a warehouse party in Oakland. The blaze began about 11:30 p.m. Friday, killing at least nine people.
Oakland fire: ‘I had to get out of there’
It was too hot, too much smoke. I had to get out of there. I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work.
— Artist Bob Mule
Video shows Oakland warehouse in flames
Oakland fire: ‘There is still a lot of the building that needs to be searched’
“We are up to nine known fatalities,” Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed told reporters from the scene at 31st Avenue and International Boulevard on Saturday morning. “There is still a lot of the building that needs to be searched.”