Criminal Inquiry Opened Into Deadly Oakland Warehouse Fire -- Death Toll Rises To 36
A criminal investigation has been opened into the deadly warehouse fire in Oakland that has claimed the lives of 36 people thus far. The death toll is expected to rise as emergency workers continue to sift through debris and uncover bodies in the burned wreckage of the warehouse where a late night electronic music party took place Friday night into Saturday morning.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sherrif's Department, said the district attorney's office has sent a team of criminal investigators to join the sheriff's arson task force and Oakland Police already in place. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also sent a representative to aid with the investigation according to the LA Times.
Already some of the victims have been identified. They come from all walks of life, ranging from schoolteachers, to musicians, to artists and other members of the entertainment community. Cash Askew was a 22-year-old musician who lived in Oakland was part of the band Them Are Us Too. Jonathan Bernbaum, a VJ for DJs such as Knife Party, Markus Schulz and others, reportedly lost his life in the fire. Brandon Chase Wittenauer was a prolific musician who went by the stage name Nex Luguolo and was the lead vocalist of musical duo Symbiotix.Fungi according to CNN.
Authorities say they have searched about 70 percent of the building as of Monday morning.
The fire occurred on Friday night at the Oakland warehouse commonly known as "Ghost Ship." The building, which was owned by Derick Almena, was considered a safe space for artists to crash if they could not afford other places to stay in the Bay Area.
Artists of experimental electronic music label 100% Silk were performing that night. The main act that night was Golden Donna. He was supported by Cherushii (Chelsea Faith Dolan) and Nackt (John Igaz), in addition to other local artists. Dolan and Igaz are still missing at this time.