- Title: Mourners say Oakland warehouse fire highlights housing crisis
- Date: 6th December 2016
- Summary: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 5, 2016) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) PEOPLE GATHERING FOR VIGIL PEOPLE WITH CANDLES ATTENDING VIGIL TWO PEOPLE HUGGING EACH OTHER VARIOUS OF PEOPLE AT VIGIL (SOUNDBITE) (English) OAKLAND RESIDENT, "PIRATE", SAYING: "If this is, you know, part of what's happened with our housing crisis in this city and this is a horrible way for us to, you know, have to come together but mostly it's about the fact that so many people have died. You know, friends and neighbors, artists, you know, members of marginalized communities and this is what people are here to recognize and, you know, show sympathy for, and respect for." PEOPLE ATTENDING VIGIL (SOUNDBITE) (English) CITY OF BERKELEY MAYOR, JESSE ARREGUIN, SAYING: "And really this is a symptom of the broader housing gentrification crisis that's affecting the entire Bay Area, where artists are being pushed out of cities and pushed into oftentimes, you know, dangerous situations. And we need to do more to create more affordable and safe space for artists to live and work in our community." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE AT VIGIL (SOUNDBITE) (English) OAKLAND RESIDENT, TRISH FOULKE, SAYING: "This kind of thing tonight is not because anyone there was doing anything wrong they were doing what they love to do the best. Unfortunately, the infrastructure that should be there to protect them wasn't." BURNING CANDLE PEOPLE ATTENDING VIGIL PEOPLE PLACING CANDLES ON GROUND
- Embargoed: 21st December 2016 08:09
- Keywords: Oakland California loft warehouse fire
- Location: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BQVM87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds gathered at Oakland's Lake Merritt for a candlelight vigil on Monday (December 5) to honor the victims of a warehouse fire.
The death toll rose to 36 from a blaze that engulfed a converted warehouse during a dance party in Oakland, California, the greatest loss of life from a U.S. fire in over a decade, as searchers sifted charred ruins being treated as a crime scene.
Authorities said they were certain to find more bodies in the gutted building and were still trying to account for about 50 people reported missing by loved ones, while ruling out any drastic climb in the tally of deaths.
One mourner, who called himself "Pirate" said the fire highlighted the city's lack of affordable properties.
"If this is, you know, part of what's happened with our housing crisis in this city and this is a horrible way for us to, you know, have to come together but mostly it's about the fact that so many people have died," he said.
The mayor of nearby Berkley echoed Pirate's words.
"This is a symptom of the broader housing gentrification crisis that's affecting the entire Bay Area, where artists are being pushed out of cities and pushed into oftentimes, you know, dangerous situations. And we need to do more to create more affordable and safe space for artists to live and work in our community," Jesse Arreguin said.
"The infrastructure that should be there to protect them, wasn't," said another Oakland resident, Trish Foulke.
The cause of the fire, which erupted late on Friday in a sprawling two-story building leased to an artists' collective, has yet to be determined.
The nature of the fire has raised questions about possible building code violations. City officials have said the warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship, was already under scrutiny, with an inspector having visited on Nov. 17.
Municipal authorities also cited reports of people living in the structure, although it was barred to residential use. Some of those who entered the warehouse called it a potential fire trap.
The first floor, housing an artist cooperative, the Satya Yuga Collective, was a warren of partitioned studio spaces and rooms crammed with furniture, musical instruments and rugs, according to survivors, city officials and photographs posted on social media before the fire.
The dance party was held on the second floor, which partially collapsed when the roof gave way. Survivors said flames spread quickly and billowing thick, black smoke blinded and choked those struggling to flee.
The 10,000-square-foot (929-sq-m) building lacked sprinklers or smoke detectors, and wooden pallets partially formed a makeshift stairway between first and second floors, officials said. It had just two exterior doorways.
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