Home / National News / Some Victims of the Oakland Warehouse Fire Texted Family Members Before Dying

 

(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Some victims of the Oakland, California, warehouse fire that killed at least 36 people texted messages to relatives such as, “I’m going to die” and “I love you,” according to Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly.

Ten more victims were identified overnight. The 36 people who died range in age from 21 to 35, and primarily hailed from the Bay Area. Each of them died of smoke inhalation, officials said.

Authorities are not expecting the death toll to rise further from the Friday night blaze, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahren told reporters Tuesday.

Ahren also said officials were working from a list of 50 people whose whereabouts are unknown, but noted that not all the missing may be directly related to the blaze that a fleeing survivor described as looking like a “wall of fire.”

Of the 36 victims, 22 have been positively identified and their families have been notified, the city said in a statement. An additional 10 victims have been tentatively identified and three victims need scientific identification. Three of the victims were from outside the country: Finland, Korea and Guatemala.

The Oakland Fire Department first responded to reports of a structure fire at the 4,000-square-foot warehouse known as the Ghost Ship around 11:32 p.m. Friday night. Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed told reporters Monday the facility appeared to function as a residential building that hosted a makeshift artists’ studio as well as parties like the one that took place Friday night.

Authorities Sunday asked families with missing loved ones who they believe attended the party to preserve DNA samples as a way of confirming the identities of those who died in the blaze, and the District Attorney’s Office launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

Investigators are trying to determine whether there was criminal liability and, if so, against whom, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said. If charges are brought, they could range from murder to involuntary manslaughter.

Fire Chief Reed Monday told reporters that the history of the building is being examined for clues about how the fire started.

“The city of Oakland is still looking at the history with the building … We’ve got a vibrant community in Oakland that we embrace, and we obviously want to make sure that we’re preventing any disasters like this in the future,” she said.

Oakland police have responded to numerous calls about the warehouse in the past, the department said, but it is unclear how many.

Darin Ranelletti, who is serving as the interim director of the city Planning and Building Department, told reporters Tuesday morning that the warehouse is now under investigation to determine whether it was used to house people illegally.

Ranelletti added that the party that was hosted Friday required a permit, which he said had not been obtained.

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