Warehouse Fire Perhaps the Deadliest in Oakland History
Death toll reached 30 in Oakland Fire. Warehouse fire perhaps the deadliest in Oakland history. Authorities said 30 bodies have been discovered in a deadly warehouse fire in Oakland. They say the number will increase. None of the dead have been identified. Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said more bodies are expected to be found. He reported, “We anticipate the number of victims will rise.” So far only about 20 percent of the building has been searched for bodies.
The building was occupied by an arts collective. More people were gathering for an electronic music party in the Fruitvale district. Bob Mule, a photographer and artist who lives in the building said, “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.”
The building, nicknamed the “Ghost Ship” was zoned as a warehouse. It had received a number of complaints due to blight and illegal structures inside. City officials had been at the warehouse two weeks before but no one answered the door. Kelly said the plan is to “disassemble the building piece by piece and place the debris into bins.” Authorities were bringing in bulldozers, excavators, cadaver dogs and other equipment to help locate bodies buried beneath a collapsed second floor. Other obstacles, such as a number of pianos, camping trailers, artwork, and old furniture were also causing issues.
Kelly said, “It’s very bad wreckage, twisted debris. It’s like a maze: wires, beams. It’s all fallen on top of each other. There are places and crevices we can’t get in to.”
The building is owned by Chor N. Ng, of Oakland. However, former residents say Derick and Micah Alemany were raising their three children at the warehouse. It was reported that the couple were the creative force behind the art collective. They collected monthly rent from tenants ranging between $300 to $600 per month. They held dance parties with live electronic music and charged money at the door to help raise money for rent. Alemany advertised for tenants on Facebook and Craigslist seeking “immediate change and loving revolution,” who enjoyed “poetics, dramatics, film, tantric kitten juggling, and nude traffic directing.” He described it as 10,000 square feet of vintage redwood and antique steel “styled beyond compare.”