UPDATE: The death toll has risen to 33.
#BREAKING Death toll from California warehouse fire rises to 33: authorities
— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 4, 2016
ORIGINAL STORY: Thirty bodies have now been discovered in a burnt-out converted warehouse in Oakland, California, following Friday night’s tragic fire, as authorities fear the death toll will continue to rise.
According to The New York Times, 21 more punters have been found dead after nine were originally dragged from The GhostShip venue during crews’ initial response, with a whopping 80 per cent of the building still yet to be searched.
Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tells the Times it could take days for fire crews to comb through the rest of the rubble, adding, “We anticipate that the number of victims will rise.”
The two-storey makeshift nightclub was being used as a live-in artist commune prior to the blaze, which broke out during a concert curated by LA record label 100% Silk, trapping upwards of 100 people inside. Partygoers were asphyxiated by thick black fumes, which poured from the building’s windows for four hours as crews fought to extinguish the fire.
“It was quiet, it was heartbreaking,” Melinda Drayton, battalion chief for the Oakland Fire Department, said of the search, which is still unfolding.
At the time of the tragedy, the building was reportedly under investigation by the City of Oakland over allegations of “illegal occupancy and lack of required permits”. It also lacked a sprinkler system and working smoke detectors.
Drayton says she doesn’t believe investigators have come close to determining the cause of the deadly fire.
— Oakland Firefighters (@OaklandFireLive) December 3, 2016