Oakland Warehouse Fire Death Toll Rises to 33 (UPDATE)

Other News Materials 5 December 2016 03:46 (UTC +04:00)
A total of 33 people have been confirmed dead in a massive fire at a warehouse in Oakland, California
Oakland Warehouse Fire Death Toll Rises to 33 (UPDATE)

03:46 (GMT +4) A total of 33 people have been confirmed dead in a massive fire at a warehouse in Oakland, California, Sputnik reported.

The fire broke out at the local two-story warehouse at about 11:30 p.m. local time on Friday (10:30 GMT Saturday) during the electronic music show. According to earlier reports, there could have been up to 50 people at the party when the fire broke out.

Earlier on Sunday, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said 30 people have been confirmed dead.

The latest death toll figure has now increased to 33, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported.

01:00 (GMT +4) Thirty bodies have been found in a fire-destroyed warehouse after a party in Oakland, California, Sky News reported.

Announcing that the death toll had risen, Sergeant Ray Kelly, from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, said crews has begun to get deeper into the building.

They were expecting to find more bodies as they advanced, he added.

Sergeant Kelly said earlier that the victims were believed to be people in their 20s.

It is thought that DNA will be required for identification.

The families of those feared dead have been asked to preserve DNA evidence, such as hair or tooth brushes.

A number of victims are said to be foreign nationals and embassies have been contacted.

Fire officials in Oakland fought back tears as they revealed details of the search at a news conference.

Oakland battalion fire chief Melinda Drayton said firefighters worked through the night in the gutted building.

They have gone through the building searching the debris, "bucket by bucket," Ms Drayton said.

"It was quiet, it was heartbreaking," she said. "This will be a long and arduous process."

Officials did not update the number of people who were not accounted for.

The blaze tore through the two-storey building at about 11.30pm on Friday during an event featuring electronic music act Golden Donna.

Police told local television station KTVU that the warehouse, known as the Oakland Ghost Ship, houses a group of artists and their studios.

Its website showed it to have a bohemian-type interior with a clutter of old sofas, pianos, turntables and statues.

Chief Deloach Reed said this clutter "made it difficult for people to escape".

Bob Mule, an artist who lives in the building and suffered minor burns, said: "It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there.

"I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn't get the fire extinguisher to work."

22:00 (GMT +4) The death toll has risen to 24 in a fire that ripped through a late-night dance party in a converted warehouse in Oakland, Calif., and officials say they expect that number to climb as the search continues, CBC reported.

Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly announced the new figure on Sunday and said only about 20 per cent of the charred remains of the building have been searched. Oakland Battalion Fire Chief Melinda Drayton said fire crews worked through the night to clear debris from the gutted building.

The search for bodies is expected to continue at least 48 hours.

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 said.

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.