Criminal investigation launched into Oakland warehouse fire as death toll rises to 36
The number of fatalities from the inferno which engulfed Oakland’s Ghost Ship venue late Friday night, December 2, has continued to increase. Oakland Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton, a veteran officer with 19 years of active duty, lamented the tragedy of watching “so many people perish from a fire fatality in front of your eyes and have to be stoic in your job.”
According to THUMP, in a press conference this morning, December 5, Drayton confirmed that the number of known deaths from the Ghost Ship fire has risen to 36. Sadly, this staggering number could further rise.
Drayton bleakly informed the press, “We absolutely believe the number of fatalities will increase.”
Among the eleven currently-identified victims are a 17-year-old attendee and trans musician Cash Askew.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has informed the press last night, December 4, that the Alameda County District Attorney has launched an investigation to determine the source of the fire. At that time, 70% of the building had been searched. Currently, the fire is predominantly believed to have ignited at the back of the building.
As the endeavor to locate the fire’s cause continues, recovery efforts have been temporarily halted as a safety measure for investigators and rescuers. FACT reports:
“Recovery efforts were temporarily halted Sunday 10 pm PST after investigators believed they identified the section of the building, nicknamed Ghost Ship, where the fire started. The area will be probed this morning to try and locate the cause.
The halt is also due to intense structural damage that has caused the building’s front wall to lean inwards that proved risky for police and firefighters. A plan to shore up support for the wall is being developed and will be implemented today.”
Oakland Fire Department spokesperson Chief Teresa DeLoach Reed remarked, “We hope that we’ll be back in the building between 12 o’clock and two o’clock today to continue the recovery effort.”
Dancing Astronaut will continue to provide updated information as this story develops.