Oakland Ghost Ship fire claims at least 9 lives, with more feared missing

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A fire that broke out during an electronic music party at an artists’ warehouse space in the Fruitvale late Friday night has claimed at least 9 lives, and an estimated 25 more people are feared missing.

A joint statement by the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office released mid-day on Saturday tallied 9 known fatalities, although the death toll is expected to rise once law enforcement officials are able to more closely search the building.

Friends and family initially widely shared a Google Document listing the names and physicals details of those considered missing, asking for people to confirm their whereabouts and provide contact information for family members. The document is now no longer publicly viewable, but as of Saturday afternoon, a handful of the people on the list had been reported safe, some of them in the hospital. Facebook also activated its “safety check” feature for Oakland, asking nearby residents to confirm whether they were safe.

The warehouse space, located near the intersection of 31st Avenue and International Boulevard, was known as the Oakland Ghost Ship; it has previously hosted electronic music events and was the home of the Satya Yuga artists’ collective.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the city was investigating the building for alleged construction permit and blight violations. Partygoer Michael Rosen, who left before the fire broke out, described its interior for the Daily Beast , writing that the second story, where most of the attendees were believed to have died, was accessible only by a “makeshift staircase” that resembled a wooden plank with notches for footholds.

By early Saturday evening, the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, a San Francisco-based group that hosts exhibitions, concerts and electronics classes, had raised more than $74,000 for a relief fund for victims of the fire.

Both the Oakland A’s and Raiders promised matching funds of up to $30,000 for a separate campaign; as of early Saturday evening, the fund had reached that goal.

In the joint statement, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wrote: ““Last night’s fire was an immense tragedy. I am grateful to our first responders for their efforts to deal with this deadly fire. Our focus right now is on the victims and their families and ensuring that we have a full accounting for everyone who was impacted by this tragedy.”

“We are fully committed to sharing as much information as we can as quickly as possible. The most critical information to share at this time is the phone number where victims’ families can get information which is (510) 382-3000 at the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau.”

As of 8:30 pm, no law enforcement agencies had released updated tallies for the number of people missing or injured, nor had they released the names of victims. Law enforcement officials have told the media that the death toll may reach 40.

Previously, the most deadly fire in Oakland history was the Oakland Hills fire, which claimed 25 lives and injured 150 people on October 20, 1991.

Story by Oakland North Staff. All photos by Khaled Sayed.

Update: On Sunday morning, CNN was reporting that the death toll had increased to 24 people. Oakland North will continue to follow this story.

 

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