Oakland Fire Department officials have confirmed that 33 bodies have now been removed from amid the ashes of the horrific warehouse building fire Friday night, as of about 6pm EST Sunday, and they are expecting to find even more.
Officials report they have only been able to search through about 30 percent of the building so far, and it may take days before they get through the entire structure, as some areas are not even accessible yet.
Sergeant Ray Kelly, of the Almeda County Sheriff’s Department, said Sunday afternoon they are asking families to preserve any DNA evidence as it may be needed to help identify the bodies. Eight of the 33 bodies have now been identified – one of victims was the son of an Oakland police deputy.
Most victims were in their 20s and 30s, but Sergeant Kelly reported that some were younger than 18. Some of the victims were also reported to be citizens of other countries in Europe and Asia.
As firefighters are searching through the rubble, they’ve discovered that motor homes and trailers were also parked inside, where some people may have been living, and they can’t even get inside those yet.
Sergeant Kelly said they don’t know how many people were actually in the building, or how many got out. They are in the process of interviewing witnesses as well.
The building was called the Ghost Ship Warehouse. It has been reported that the building was zoned as a warehouse and had been illegally converted into an artist residence where people lived and worked. It was not equipped with fire alarms or sprinklers, and people had used reclaimed wood and various materials to create their own make-shift walls and corridors inside.
The building was not well-ventilated, so when the fire started, all the wood and combustible materials created heavy smoke and provided fuel for the fire, making it spread so quickly, the victims could not escape. As the roof collapsed, and then the second floor collapsed, both escape and recovery efforts have been hindered.
This video shows video of what the building looked like inside, with all the artists’ furnishings and displays.
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