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33 killed in California warehouse blaze

CALIFORNIA, December 5, 2016

Nearly 33 people were killed after a fire ripped through a late-night dance party in a converted warehouse in Oakland, California, said media report citing senior officials.

Late Sunday night, the City of Oakland released the names of seven deceased victims who had been identified. They ranged in age from 22 to 35, according to CBC.

The building known as the "Ghost Ship" was an artist workspace and illegal home for a rotating cast of a dozen or more residents, those who lived there or visited often.

The search for bodies is expected to continue at least 48 hours and the death toll could climb to 40 as investigators continue to search the blaze-hit building, according to Voice of America.

Authorities say DNA will be needed to identify bodies, and officials have asked families of those feared dead to preserve any DNA evidence they may have, including hair or tooth brushes.

The death toll has risen to 33 and officials say they expect that number to climb as the search continues.

Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said crews had started to get deeper into the building and that as they advance they expect to find more victims.

Oakland Battalion Fire Chief Melinda Drayton said fire crews worked through the night to clear debris from the gutted building.

Former residents said it was also a death trap with few exits, a rickety makeshift staircase, piles of driftwood and a labyrinth of electrical cords.

The ground floor had five recreational vehicles and other nooks used as living spaces that were rented out to tenants, while the upstairs had space for concerts like the deadly party that drew up to 100 people Friday night.

With few lights, the place could be pitch black. One staircase led to a boarded up door. The water and electricity were stolen from neighbours and often didn't work, said the report.

According to officials, the building was home to about 50 people who lived in an artists’ collective, and a Facebook page for the event showed that 176 people planned to attend the party.

After repeated complaints from neighbours that people were illegally living in the building and trash was piling up, the city of Oakland opened an investigation on November 13. Officials went to inspect the property four days later but could not get inside, stated the VoA report.




Tags: US | California |

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