Names released of 7 warehouse fire victims
The Alameda County coroner’s bureau Sunday evening released the names of seven victims among the 33 found so far in the wreckage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire Friday night in Oakland.
The seven victims identified are Cash Askew, 22, David Clines, 35, Travis Hough, 35, and Donna Kellogg, 32, all of Oakland, and Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, of Coronado in San Diego County, Sara Hoda, 30, of Walnut Creek and Brandon Wittenauer, 32 of Hayward.
One person identified and whose family has been notified is a 17-year-old whose name will not be released.
The death toll in the fire at the Ghost Ship, which was a converted warehouse, rose today to 33, according to Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly.
As of 3:15 p.m., crews had searched around 40 percent of the building at 1305 31st Ave., Kelly said during a news conference.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has begun a criminal investigation into the tragic fire.
“We’re doing everything we can to preserve evidence. … We want to get to the bottom of how this happened.”
Some of the victims included non-U.S. citizens, according to Kelly.
Kelly also confirmed that one of the victims was a son of an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy:
“We’re still dealing with that as we deal with the other victims, and our department is hurting from that.”
Sheriff’s officials are asking anyone hoping to identify a victim to save the victim’s DNA from items like a used hairbrush or toothbrush. The items should be secured in a paper bag to preserve their DNA, according to Kelly.
The Family Assistance Center set up at 2425 East 12th St. remains open and is offering resources and counseling to the family and friends of the victims.
The fire broke out just after 11:30 p.m. at the Ghost Ship that was being used by an artist collective. On Friday night, people were holding a party advertised on Facebook as the “Golden Donna 100% Silk 2016 West Coast Tour.” Golden Donna, an alias of musician Joel Shanahan, issued a statement on Facebook Saturday about the fire.
Joel is safe but like many people he is heartbroken and has several friends among the missing,” the statement said. “Sending love to everyone affected by this horrific event.” The Los Angeles-based music label 100% Silk also issued a statement about Friday night’s fire:
“What happened in Oakland is an unbelievable tragedy, a nightmare scenario. … We are a very tight community of artists and we are all praying, sending love and condolences to everyone involved and their families.”
The warehouse had apparently been the subject of some recent complaints. The building was last permitted for use as a warehouse, according to Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.
A notice of violation was given on Nov. 13 regarding “a ton of garbage piling up on the property” with “the main building remodel (sic) for residential,” according to city records.
A city inspector who visited the building on Nov. 17 verified the complaint, but could not get inside to confirm the interior construction, according to Landreth’s office.
Oakland director of planning and building Darin Ranelletti said Saturday the building was not legally permitted for any use other than as a warehouse, adding that Friday’s party was not permitted by the city, he said.
Fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton, a 19-year veteran with the department, said Sunday morning:
“This is the most deadly fire in Oakland’s history. … It’s tragic to watch so many people perish in a fire.”