8 of the 33 People Confirmed Dead Were Firefighters Trying to Save Lives

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Seven victims have been named as firefighters announced they have recovered 33 bodies from the Oakland warehouse party blaze.

Cash Askew, Donna Kellogg, Pete Wadsworth, Barrett Clark, Nex Luguolo, David Cline, Ara Jo and Travis Hough were all at the Oakland Ghost Ship when the warehouse caught alight at around 11.30pm on Friday night.

Today, they became the first named casualties of the devastating fire as the official death toll hits 33.
Sergeant Ray Kelly revealed on Sunday that the deceased include 17-year-old minors and that one of the victims is the son of an Oakland police deputy.

‘This tragedy has hit very close to home for our agency,’ he said during a press conference. ‘We’re still dealing with that as we continue to deal with the other victims. Our department is hurting from that.’

Kelly said that among the victims are citizens from countries in Europe and Asia and that the department is in the process of contacting the necessary embassies and consulates before their names are released.

The sergeant said firefighters have made their way through about 30 percent of the building so far and that it remains unclear if the death toll could rise.

‘We have another 60 plus percent to search, and we’re finding motor homes and trailers where people may have been living inside,’ he said.

‘We don’t even know if people are inside of those, we can’t get into those yet.’

‘If you had told us at the start of this investigation that we would have 33 victims, we wouldn’t have believed you,’ he added.

‘We don’t know how many people were in that building that night – we don’t know how many people got out of that building that night.’

Kelly said that victims are being found ‘throughout the entire square footage’ of the venue.

‘We’ve broken the warehouse into four quadrants, we found victims in every quadrant of the warehouse,’ he said.

‘We’re finding victims where we least expect them.’

Investigations continue but the fire chief admitted that they had not ‘even gotten close to the point of origin of the fire.’

Authorities said that some victims will have to be identified by matching dental records or even DNA testing as families are urged to bring in items such as hair brushes to see if the DNA matches the bodies.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed that the District Attorney’s Office activated their criminal investigation team and that a representative of the DA was onsite.

‘It is far too early for us to have suspicions for what caused this fire,’ she added. ‘There are many interviews being conducted right now, but you have to understand that the scope of this tragedy is tremendous.’

‘We have many, many witnesses to interview. We are in the process of doing that.’

‘Our first task is to attend to the victims and the families, that is our moral obligation to put the bulk of our resources right now on this most important task.’

A neighbor of the Ghost Ship warehouse, who saw it go up in flames, has claimed the blaze began in a junk yard belonging to the artists.

Nick Garcia, 21, said he first saw a little fire in the the empty lot next to the building which was full of RV parts, wood and welding equipment.

He told Daily Mail.com: ‘We saw it a little bit start in the yard, and then within about five minutes the entire building was burning and then after that there was nothing. Within about five minutes of a little fire in the yard, the whole thing lit up and then it burned for like four hours.’

Nick said the building’s windows had metal screens on making them impossible to use as an escape route.

‘If you look at the outside of them they were bolted on metal mesh,’ he said.

‘There’s no way, they couldn’t even jump out of them if they wanted to. I know there was a way to get to the roof, because we’ve seen people on the roof.’

‘It used to be a warehouse and it was abandoned for a long time and then these people moved in about three or four years ago. They are in and out different people, if you want to come and stay there you can stay there.’

Nick’s mother Nancy Garcia, who’s brother Al Garcia runs Reid supply next door to the warehouse, said it was ‘unbelievable’ how quick the building went up in flames after it began at around 11.40pm. ‘
‘By 11.50pm the whole building was engulfed. How could it go up that fast both floors?’ she asked.

‘The flames were so intense it was like they were almost fuel there.’

Garcia said the warehouse used to have air vents on the roof but the inhabitants got rid of them two years ago because of rain getting in.

‘When they moved in, there used to be wind turbines to take the air out of the place, and they took them down and covered them,’ she said. ‘So if there was any place to get air out of the place they sealed it.’

Bob Mule, a photographer and artist who lived at the building and attended the electronic dance party suffered burns trying to drag his friend to safety.

The artist told NBC he had been running back to get his camera when he saw Wadsworth lying on the floor with a suspected broken ankle after he tried to climb down from his loft space.

‘He needed me to pull him out. I tried my best – he was a larger gentleman. There was a lot of stuff in the way, there was too much smoke.

‘I had to let him… I had to let him…’ he said, his voice breaking. ‘The thought of him in there is in my brain.’

Mule suffered burns on his arm, hands and shoulder, while his denim vest was left charred and blackened.

‘If I didn’t have this vest on while I was pulling out Pete, I don’t know. It would have been me too probably.’

Meanwhile, a former tenant of the warehouse has since described the venue space as a ‘death trap’ full of illegal electrical cords and music equipment.

Shelley Mack said Saturday that she didn’t know the dwelling was illegal when she lived there about two years ago, and was told to tell visitors it was a 24-hour workspace for artists.

When inspectors or other outsiders came to visit, she said she and other residents scurried to hide clothes, bedding and other evidence anyone was living there.

Oakland officials say the space was cluttered with rugs, old sofas and other items when the fire tore through it during the dance party on Friday night.

Fire crews were only able to access 20 percent of the smoldering warehouse wreckage after working through Saturday night.

Sgt Kelly says crews are starting to get deeper into the building and that as they advance they expect to find more victims.

Fire Chief Battalion Melinda Drayton said at a press conference on Sunday that they recovered 30 bodies just within the fifth of the building.

The fire chief appeared to be overcome with emotion at one point, as Kelly explained that the search effort had been ’emotional’ for all of them.

‘We anticipate the number of victims will rise,’ he added.

‘This will be a long, arduous process,’ Drayton said. ‘What we were able to accomplish in 12 hours was a phenomenal feat. We have a lot more to go. We’re going to be here for a few more days.’

They are working tirelessly, around the clock in 12-hour shifts removing debris ‘bucket by bucket,’ she said.

Oakland Police Officer Joanna Watson said that police have also been working to identify victims and missing persons by looking at cars parked near the building – potentially belonging to party revelers – to try and trace their owners.

The sheriff’s office began making notifications on Saturday night. But dozens of families are still desperately waiting to hear if their loved ones are alive or dead.

Officials said the building had no sprinkler system or working smoke detectors. The owner had been cited by the city just last month for other violations.

Max Ohr, the creative director of the art collective that used the warehouse, told the TODAY Show on Sunday that he was working the door when he saw ‘an orange glow coming from the back of the warehouse’ and had run to get an extinguisher. He estimated around 70 people had been inside the venue at the time.

‘I ran back and got maybe one squirt out of and realized it wasn’t going to do anything,’ he said. ‘The roof had already caught and the flames were coming towards the door at an alarming rate.’

‘It took about 15 seconds to go from notification of a fire to completely engulfed,’ he added.

Ohr said there were no sprinklers in the building prior to the art collective leasing the warehouse. He blamed poor wiring for the cause of the fire.

The creative director said that the art collective had reported the building’s electricity issues to the warehouse owner.

‘They were not very helpful with us throughout the entirety of our struggle with the electricity here so that’s my first instinct is to think perhaps some of the building’s wiring had something to do with this,’ he said.

‘The landlord has been in communication with both myself and the owner of this space for at least three years now and the electricity was a major issue prior to my coming on board,’ he said.

Eva Ng, the warehouse’s owner’s daughter, said the family had no comment.

‘We are also trying to figure out what’s going on like everyone else. We’re so sorry to hear about the tragedy,’ Ng said in an email attributed to her mother, building owner Chor Ng. ‘Our condolences go out to the families and friends of those injured and those who lost their lives.’

Today, tributes have been pouring in for those who lost their lives in the blaze.

Anya Taylor, the civil partner of Askew, a transgender musician from San Francisco, has been left devastated by the loss.

‘My love is gone,’ she posted on Facebook. ‘Nothing is real. All I want is her. I miss my love so much and I can’t fathom a life without her.

‘I would give anything to have her back. I love you Cash’

Adi Putra said she was ‘truly devastated by the news’ and the loss of ‘sweet, dear Cash. Thanks for the beautiful tunes and memories.’

Another friend said his ‘heart was breaking’ after finding out the Them Are Us Too band member, ‘the sweet beautiful Cash Askew’, had perished.

Askew’s father Christopher Conn Askew had posted a desperate plea for news of his daughter in the early hours of the morning, before confirming she was among the 30 casualties.

Meanwhile Mollie Cohen Rosenthal D’Agostino paid tribute to Kellogg, who was reportedly on the second floor, and whom she called ‘a beautiful giggly, wise, person who will be very missed.’

Source: Daily Mail UK