Ghost Ship building owners knew of electrical inadequacies before fatal fireOakland Warehouse Fire Ghost Ship E1595177363403

Ghost Ship building owners knew of electrical inadequacies before fatal fire

Owners of the building that houses the “Ghost Ship” venue weren’t in the dark about the building’s electrical issues before a fatal fire took the lives of 36 people last December.

Emails obtained by the The Mercury News reflect early concerns from residents about the former warehouse‘s electrical issues. The landlord of the warehouse David Almena sent an email to Kai Ng, whose father Chor Ng owns the building, stating that the electrical wiring in the building was “ancient and violated lines of distribution” and “in dire need of a total and immediate upgrade.”

On February 15, 2015, days after Almena’s email, Kai issued the response, “The lack of electrical infrastructure was made very clear before your lease began.”

Almena wasn’t alone in his concern. Merely two months before the December 2016 fire, resident Max Harris emailed both property managers Kai and his sister Eva Ng, suggesting the “overexertion” on the building’s electrical supply was dangerous.

On Kai’s response, Harris told The Mercury News, “Kai Ng totally sidestepped my expression of needing stability. I said it was terminal and was getting worse, and he just asked for more money.”

Emails shared between unlicensed contractor and former resident Ben Cannon provide more evidence that the Ngs knew of the building’s electrical issues prior to the disaster. According to an invoice from Cannon, Kai and Eva Ng were aware of an unreported fire in an adjoining auto body shop in 2014. Cannon suggested that the space needed a second transformer as the first one was “too small for the loads on it.”

A legal analyst suggests that these emails make the case for involuntary manslaughter and second degree manslaughter more credible in a court of law.


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