The tragic blaze started during an electronic dance party concert on Friday evening at the locally famous warehouse at 1305 31st Avenue. Known as the “Oakland Ghostship,” the two-story warehouse housed studios, workshops and residences – six mobile homes were parked inside the warehouse where people reportedly lived. Not much was spared in the devastating blaze.
The fire seemingly started on the second floor of the building, quickly spreading to the entire interior. There was no evidence of sprinklers in the warehouse, according to CNN, and the building only had two exits. The staircase to the second floor was makeshift, created partly out of wooden pallets. CNN reports people inside the warehouse jumped from windows as the fire consumed the building.
The owner of the warehouse had been cited in November for hazardous trash and debris surrounding the building – his second citation of this kind in two years. In addition, zoning officials received complaints regarding illegal construction on the property. At the time of the fatal fire, the warehouse was under a city code enforcement investigation due to health and safety issues.
The Los Angeles Times reports that some former residents believed the “Ghostship” was a death trap. Many people in the arts community knew of the issues that the Ghost Ship had, including potentially unsafe conditions, according to CNN.
The warehouse’s current lessees lived in the second floor of the warehouse and would often hold concerts like the one on Friday night. They were not present on the night of the fire.
A friend of the lessee’s wife alerted city fire department officials and the lessee of the unsafe conditions of the warehouse, but she did not know if any result came of the inspection. Alameda County Officials have sent a team of criminal investigators to see if anyone should be held responsible criminally for the deadly blaze that has thus far claimed 36 lives.
The Oakland Fire Battalion Chief says he absolutely believes the fatality number will increase as they continue to search the warehouse. As of Monday morning, according to the Los Angeles Times, 70 percent of the building had been searched. The search was temporarily suspended due to worries over the structural instability of the warehouse.
Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.