Family of victim files first lawsuit of the Oakland Ghost Ship fire
Ever since the devastating fire at Oakland’s Ghost Ship at the beginning of December, there has been an outpouring of support from the global music community. At least two benefit concerts have been held – one at Musik & Frieden in Berlin, and another at popular San Francisco venue the Mezzanine – hosted by veteran musician and artist Moby.
The parents of Michela Gregory, a young student at San Francisco State University who perished in the fire, have officially filed the first lawsuit against building owner Chor Ng and principal tenant Derick Ion Almenda, among others, who promoted the event and regularly used the space. Gregory’s body was later found in the arms of her then-boyfriend, Alex Vega.
The total number of deaths caused by the blaze reached 36, making it one of the deadliest structure fires in Oakland’s history and the deadliest in the US in more than a decade. Investigations have revealed that there were no effective escape routes from the main performance area, which, the lawsuit claims, prevented Gregory, Vega and other victims from being able to evacuate once the fire started.
Following the tragedy, many have pointed to skyrocketing property prices in the Bay Area for forcing venues and organizations like Ghost Ship into the underground. Fortunately, significant voices have spoken out against punitive measures that would likely force the underground music and arts scene even further underground. Most notably, Oakland mayor Libby Shaaf has already announced that a new $1.7 million grant will be set aside to help nurture safe and affordable spaces for local artists and art organizations.