In Oakland, authorities continue to comb through the charred remnants of a warehouse that was destroyed by a fast-spreading fire that engulfed the building during a concert killing multiple concert attendees. The search continues for both the remains of victims caught in the fire and for answers as to how such a tragedy could have happened in the first place.
At this time, there are more questions than answers. There are questions about a rickety stairway, there are questions about building and event permits, there are questions about building occupancy and about people residing in the space.
As of Monday morning, the burnt remains of 36 victims have been recovered – 33 of these individuals have been identified and the family of about half of those victims have been notified.
The fire took place occured Friday night at Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse on 31st Avenue, where electronic music DJ, Golden Donna was scheduled to perform.
The two-story warehouse was normally home to a number of local area artists’ studios. The state of the building was known to the housing department, as they had notified property owners of trash and debris violations.
While the loss of so many lives is a great tragedy for the city of Oakland, the outcome could have been much worse had the fire started later in the evening, as many concert goers were planning for a very late evening and had not yet arrived.
According to Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, most victims were found on the second floor after the pallet stairway leading to the upper level had become inacessible.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pledged to get a “full accounting” for the events that transpired and committed to sharing those finding publicly as quickly as possible, calling the fire an “immense tragedy.”
How Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire Started
According to locals, the warehouse is a “sort of live/work art space with a lot of old decorations and furniture.” Pre-fire photos found on the interenet show elaborate wooden structures inside the building, along with beds, furniture, mannequins, statues and more.
The interior spaces of the building were partitioned into spaces to accommodate several artists. While unconfirmed, several people have indicated that some of these artists had taken up residence in the building and had been living there for some time. It is believed that about 20 individuals lived in the building full time.
According to Oakland’s interim director of planning and building, Darin Ranelletti, the city had only approved permits for the building to be used as a warehouse and not for residences. He also stated that city officials had signed off on a permit for the event.
A History of Negligence
Records show that warehouse property owners were notified last month of code violations for hazardous trash and debris. A complaint about an illegal structure inside the building was submittied in November, but officials failed to investigate the complaint or take action prior to the fire. A city inspector had attempted to enter the warehouse on November 17 but was unable to make a visual inspection.
In addition to concerns about the state of the building’s interior, firefighters found no evidence of sprinklers inside.
Ghost Ship Criminal Charges
At the time of writing, the building has not been deemed a crime scene, but Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley, says her office is looking at whether or not criminal liability will be attached to this fire.
“Charges could be murder or voluntary manslaughter… we don’t know until we finish our investigation,” said O’Malley.
Taking Civil Action – Holding Those Responsible, Accountable
While it is still early, civil action can be taken to hold those deemed responsible, accountable for their actions.
In cases like these, it is often the negligence of multiple parties that result in such a tragedy – this could include the building owners, event promoters, the city for failure to take action on a known problem, and more.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in this fire, contact the team at TORKLAW today to get the justice you deserve. Our team of attorneys works on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay anything unless they successfully make a financial recovery for you.
For a free case consultation, contact our sponsoring lawyers today at (888) 853-6696.