Family of 20-year-old brings first suit in Oakland warehouse fire
Firefighters battle a blaze that swept through a warehouse in Oakland during a concert Friday night. At least nine bodies had been recovered and more fatalities were expected, authorities said.(David Butow / Redux)
A firefighter walks through the burned-out Oakland warehouse on Saturday.(David Butow / For The Times)
Firefighters walk through a debris-strewn warehouse where a fire killed at least nine people in Oakland.(David Butow / For The Times)
Titus Cromwell, 4, places a flower from his family’s garden near the scene of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Daryl Norman, 63, of Oakland stops by the scene of the fire on his way to church in Oakland. “I had to come see for myself,” he said of the 36 victims. “God bless them.”(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
People stand at the perimeter holding flowers while watching crews remove material from what remains of the “Ghostship” warehouse fire, that burned and killed at least 36 people in the Oakland neighborhood of Fruitvale.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
An art installation near the scene of the Ghost Ship fire.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
People pay their respects Dec. 11 near the scene of the warehouse fire.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Mourners observe a moment of silence for the lives lost in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire at the Oakland Museum of California on Friday evening.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles TImes)
ATF agents map the scene of the fire investigation Friday at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland. (Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)(Francine Orr / Los Angeles TImes)
Rain falls on the memorial for victims of the Oakland warehouse fire.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles TImes)
Jacob Ramirez, 4, left, looks on while his grandmother Eva Ramirez, 52, consoles Hillary Morse, 22, right, of Oakland near the site of the warehouse fire in Oakland.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Flowers, candles and notes, memorializing those killed and injured in the “Ghostship” warehouse fire that burned and killed at least 36 people in the Oakland neighborhood of Fruitvale.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
A man who identified himself as Ben P. reads cards on Sunday at a memorial near the site of the blaze.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Kristen Grzeca, a music teacher at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, hugs Monina Sen Cervone, director of world music and dance at the school, on Sunday at a makeshift memorial for victims of the warehouse fire. A 17-year-old victim was one of Grzeca’s students.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
After attending church, Teionna Cunningham of Oakland leaves flowers near the site of the fire.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
A Seventh Day Adventist group prays on Sunday near the scene of the fire on 31st Avenue in Oakland.(David Butow / For The Times)
Genevieve Griesau grieves before a church service at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. Griesau lost four friends in the fire which broke out during a party Friday night at a two-story warehouse and artists’ studio in Oakland, killing at least nine people.(Francine Orr)
Flowers are left near an Oakland warehouse where a fire broke out during a concert, killing 36 people.(David Butow / For The Times)
Dino Graniello, left, and Jessie Xenakis light candles near the scene of a warehouse fire in Oakland that killed at least two dozen partygoers.(David Butow / For The Times)
People gather near the warehouse on Saturday.(David Butow / Redux / For the Times)
The parents of a 20-year-old college student who died in the arms of her boyfriend in Oakland’s deadly warehouse fire filed the first lawsuit Friday in the disaster, blaming the building’s owner, chief tenant and others.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, evoked the last moments of San Francisco State student Michela Gregory, saying she was trapped on the second floor of the 10,000-square-foot building that was a jumble of makeshift stairs and room dividers with no clear exit paths.
The building, known as the Ghost Ship, plunged into darkness when the fire started, the lawsuit said.
Gregory and the others “tried to exit the warehouse, but were unable to exit due to the unsafe conditions and configuration of the warehouse,” the lawsuit alleges.
Gregory was one of 36 people killed Dec. 2 when a fire broke out in the converted warehouse that was hosting a $10-a-head concert and party.
It was the deadliest structure fire in the United States in more than a decade.
“It’s really horrific, irresponsible actions and inactions on the part of this building owner, those associated with this event, and the city that cost the life of this beautiful young lady and the lives of 35 others,” lawyer Mary Alexander, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of parents Kimberly and David Gregory, said by phone.
Lawyers retained by the building owner and chief tenant did not immediately return requests for comment Friday.
Gregory’s body was found with that of Alex Vega, 22, who had been her boyfriend from high school. Vega’s arms were around her, the lawsuit said, citing the coroner’s office.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from building owner Chor Ng, principal tenant Derick Ion Almena, and others who lived and used the work spaces and makeshift rooms in the warehouse and promoted the night’s event.
The Alameda County district attorney’s office has said it is evaluating whether any criminal charges are warranted in the blaze.
Alexander said the family planned to file a separate claim against Oakland alleging negligence by city officials.
People living in and near the building had lodged repeated complaints to building inspectors, police and others about parties, trash and illegal residences at the converted warehouse.
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