Oakland fire death toll now 36, Ghost Ship manager speaks, money being raised
The official death toll from Friday's horrific fire at Oakland's Ghost Ship DIY space has, according to the LA Times, risen to 36 with more possible, as firefighters have only been able to search 70% of the building, halting efforts early Monday morning due to structural weaknesses in what remains of the gutted building.
President Obama released a statement, saying "While we still don't know the full toll of this disaster, we do know that an American community has been devastated, and many people - including young men and women with their whole futures ahead of them - have tragically lost their lives...Oakland is one of the most diverse and creative cities in our country, and as families and residents pull together in the wake of this awful tragedy, they will have the unwavering support of the American people."
The Ghost Ship space was the underground illegal DIY space that most cities have, where people lived and threw shows and parties, though it was decorated more ornately than most. Derick Ion Almena, who managed The Ghost Ship, spoke briefly to ABC News who found Derick and his wife/partner Micah Allison in the lobby of the hotel they're staying at. You can watch that video HERE.
Derick also spoke briefly to NBC News (via LA Times):
"My goal has been nothing less than to create an environment for art and creativity in our community,” he told NBC News. “During this investigation please continue to show support and compassion for those affected by this tragedy. The prayers of my family and I go out to the families of the victims."
Almena did not immediately respond to a Times request for comment.
A group calling itself Satya Yuga Collective leased the warehouse, which Almena managed.
Almena, 46, lived on the second floor of the warehouse with his wife, and often hosted concerts on the premise, which was billed as the “Oakland Ghost Ship.”
According to residents, the couple’s three children also lived in the building.
As previously mentioned, and reported by The LA Times, officials have said the warehouse was the subject of a city code enforcement investigation at the time of the fire. Former residents called it a “death trap” that lacked fire sprinklers. Others point out that spaces like this happen due to the skyrocketing real estate boom happening in most cities, giving artists fewer and fewer legitimate, affordable options.
You can view photos of the space, as it once looked, in the gallery above.
Donate money to the families of the victims, HERE.