Death toll rises to 36 from California warehouse inferno

December 6, 2016 | By | Reply More

The death toll rose to 36 on Monday from a blaze that engulfed a converted warehouse during a dance party in Oakland, California.

California warehouse fireAuthorities said they were certain to find more bodies in the gutted building and were still trying to account for about 50 people reported missing by loved ones, while ruling out any drastic climb in the tally of deaths.

“If you have a best friend out there, please hug your best friend,” Franchesca Dickerson, a 21-year old hairdresser, told a candlelight vigil, as she held a collage of images of a friend who died in the blaze.

“I’d give 50,000 years to hug mine,” added Dickerson, who was to have joined her childhood friend, 19-year old Michalea Gregory, at the party, but changed plans because of work.

But charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to murder could feature in a potential criminal case, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley told a news conference.

O’Malley said fire investigators and a task force from her office were working with recovery teams inside the wreckage to preserve any potential criminal evidence as they seek signs of victims and clues to the origin of the blaze.

Debris was being removed “bucket by bucket,” said Deputy Fire Chief Darren White, but a large construction crane at the scene required nearby electricity lines to be shut down for several hours, as a precaution.

FIRE HAZARDS

The nature of the fire has raised questions about possible building code violations. City officials have said the warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship, was already under scrutiny, with an inspector having visited on Nov. 17.

Municipal authorities also cited reports of people living in the structure, Some of those who entered the warehouse called it a potential fire trap.

Survivors said flames spread quickly and billowing thick, black smoke blinded and choked those struggling to flee.

The 10,000-square-foot (929-sq-m) building lacked sprinklers or smoke detectors, and wooden pallets partially formed a makeshift stairway between first and second floors, officials said. It had just two exterior doorways.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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