An electronic dance music party came to a tragic end late Friday night when a fire broke out, leaving at least nine dead and another 25 people unaccounted for. The evening was part of Golden Donna’s west coast tour—a DJ from Madison, Wisconsin. The fire broke out around 11:30PM in a Fruitvale district artists collective known as Ghost Ship, taking hold of a two-story building on the 1300 block of 31st Avenue.
“We still have to do a more thorough search of the building and we don’t know the potential number of other victims,” Fire Chief Teresa Deloach-Reed told the East Bay Times.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters in a press conference Saturday that they are “prepared to deal with up to 30 to 40 deceased people.”
“A majority of the fatalities were found up on the second floor. It must have been a very fast-moving fire,” Reed told reporters on Saturday morning.
Three sides of the building caught fire and its roof collapsed. 72 firefighters arrived at the scene. They had “to fight the blaze from outside because it was too hot and too intense for firefighters to go inside the building,” according to Reed. The Oakland fire department discovered that smoke detectors had not been activated in the fire, and that the building had no sprinkler system. As of 4:13am, they were still extinguishing the flames.
On the Facebook event page for the party, attendees are trying to account for the missing, sending love to the injured and the dead—full of posts from family members and friends concerned about their loved ones. They created a Google spreadsheet where the missing could be marked safe, listing their identifying features and the contact information of their loved ones. The Washington Post reports that of the 27 on the Google spreadsheet, one has been marked safe and another two are in the hospital.
“Praying for all my friends who were at this show. Love to everyone affected. Lets make sure to gather to grieve and heal together,” one person wrote on Facebook.
Regarding the missing, Reed said, “We don’t know if any of them went someplace else, self-transported to the hospital. We just don’t know that at this time.”
Most of the dead were found on the building’s second floor, which you could only get to through a makeshift stairway built with a wooden plank.
This is one of the most deadly single-structure fires in Oakland’s history.
Update 12/4/16 11:30 am: Officials confirmed on Sunday morning that the death toll has risen to 24, and said they “anticipate that the number of victims will rise.”