At approximately 11:30 local time on Friday, a fire broke out at a dance
party of at least 100 people in Oakland, CA. The event, promoted on a
Facebook page as the "Golden Donna 100% Silk 2016 West Coast Tour,"
centered around a performance by a DJ called Golden Donna, as well as
six other musical acts. It was held on the second floor of a building
used for both artists' studios and storage. As of the latest reporting,
at least 9 have been confirmed as dead, but the fate of dozens remains
According to Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Graves, the death toll
could be as high as 40.
There were several factors that made the situation even more perilous,
namely the fact that the two-story structure had only one way to escape
the second floor: a makeshift stairway. The building was also not equipped
with a fire sprinkler system and when firefighters arrived, they heard
Per the interim director of Oakland's Planning and Building Department,
Darin Ranelletti, the building was only permitted to be used as a warehouse,
not for residency, and no special permit had been issued for events. Ranelletti
also stated the building had been recently under investigation for illegal
internal construction. On November 17, an inspector had attempted to enter
what has been called a "24-hour artist collective." NBC also
reported that a "housing habitability complaint" was lodged
last month for the trash piling in front.
Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly stated that the building has
been exceptionally difficult for emergency responders to work due to the
wreckage and debris; it has been estimated that crews will continue to
work for the next 48 hours. "We have water that's still coming
down on top of our people," he said. "There's beams, there's
all sorts of wreckage and debris that we have to maneuver through."
Due to immense damage, including a partialled collapsed roof, crews will
have to shore up the walls to make sure the building is safe enough for
them continue their search. "Right now, there's limited access
to the structure," Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed said. "It's
too unsafe. And not only that, there's a lot of heavy wood from when
the roof caved in that's going to have to be removed."
Hospitals have reported minimal injuries. “It appears that either
you got out or you got trapped inside,” said Kelly. "We are
prepared for a mass casualty event. We don’t exactly know how many.”