OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Almost 24 hours have passed since what is being called the deadliest fire in Oakland history first started. Authorities say they will be on the scene for many hours if not days more. Here is a timeline:
The first call came out just before midnight Friday about a 3-alarm fire at a building off 31st Avenue and International Boulevard. Firefighters arrived to see an Oakland artist space known as the Ghost Ship ablaze, with fire pouring out of three sides.
“I was about to start painting and we tried to figure out where the smoke was coming from yelling and trying to get everyone out,” said survivor Bob Mule.
A rave had been going on upstairs on the second floor with 50 to 100 people inside. Some got out, many didn’t. The party featured musician Golden Donna’s 100% Silk West Coast Tour.
More than 50 people were there. The majority of them were young people in their 20s. Many were from outside the Bay Area.
“It all happened quickly, like the fire went up really, really quickly,” said Mule.
2 a.m. Saturday
Highly flammable pallets had been stacked up as stairs. The fire department said they went up like kindling, trapping party goers on the second floor and making the fire impossible to fight from inside.
“Our firefighters did everything they could we had to back out,” said one firefighter.
Meantime, it was not clear how the fire started. Fire officials said the building did not have sprinklers.
4 a.m. Saturday
It took 52 firefighters four hours to put out the fire, but still they couldn’t go inside. The blaze damaged the structure too badly
Initially, authorities said nine people were dead, but they knew that number would rise as the sun came up.
This is an unfortunate event for Oakland. It just hurts. It just hurts.”
9 a.m. Saturday
The death toll remains at 9, but dozens of people were unaccounted for. The Oakland Police Department issued a list of names of those who were believed to be missing.
Facebook’s Safety Check was activated – The Fire In Oakland, California – as Oakland residents awakened and began hearing about the tragic story unfolding. The fire at the Ghost Ship became the top story on every major TV news network and newspaper in the country.
At one point, recovery efforts had to be suspended because the building wasn’t safe enough for fire fighters and responders to work in. A lot of work has to be done to secure the warehouse.
Early Saturday morning firefighters couldn’t even make it 5 feet into the warehouse because of all the debris. They quickly resorted to using drones to help them assess the wreckage.
“The roof has collapsed down onto the second floor. So we have to literally go in there piece by piece and move wood and timbers and debris,” said Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. “This is not an easy task by any means. With all the debris and wreckage that’s there. We’re slowly working our way in but we have to work systematically because any misstep from our people could mean they get injured or fall through a floor or have something fall on top of them.”
1 p.m. Saturday
California Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement of condolences.
“Our thoughts are with the entire city in this difficult time and we extend our condolences to the family and friends of those lost.”
In a separate statement, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called the fire “an immense tragedy” and vowed to make every effort to help the victims and their families.
East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee expressed her sympathies and said she will work to help secure federal assistance in the fire recovery efforts.
People with friends and family believed to be at the party and others who just wanted to express their sympathy began gathering at the scene of the blaze. Some brought flowers and notes, others simply hugged one another and waited for news of their loved ones.
Authorities set up a Family Assistance Center.
The Red Cross set up a satellite office to help the displaced and provide grief counseling.
3 p.m. Saturday
As of 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, only one body had been recovered, with many more in bags. Chopper 5 was able to see them from above the scene.
Crews then went in to shore the building by placing 4 X 4s and long poles underneath the mezzanine so the flooring wouldn’t collapse and crews could work safely above and below.
“It’s just tedious,” said Deputy Chief Mark Hoffman of the Oakland Fire Department. We’re in there with the structural engineer, we’re in there with our technical rescue team and we’re making it a secure building. And that’s why we said after the one recovery, it was too lively.”
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said they believe up to 100 people may have been in the warehouse concert but there were only two exits and one way to get from the first to second floor — a spiral staircase made of pallets.
Henry Fullmore lives nearby and knows the building’s owners. “I’ve been in the building,” he said. “They were working on the stairs… I don’t know if it was safe or not, there was a lot of construction going on in there to make sure it was safe.”
6 p.m. Saturday
Details emerge about the building where the fire broke out. It was under investigation. The property owners were notified last month about violations of hazardous trash an debris.
According to authorities, there was no permit allowing rave parties, or parties of any kind, for that matter.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Oakland and Alameda County officials held their last media briefing of the day.
Sgt. Kelly said the victims had been transferred to the coroner’s office and the identification process had begun. Families will be notified.
Several dozen families have been reunited with loved ones who were believed inside, but many families still remain in limbo at the Family Assistance Center.
Lights and heavy equipment were brought in to continue moving debris, so more trapped victims might be found.
7:30 p.m. Saturday
Warriors hold a moment of silence at Oracle Arena before their game against Arizona. Golden State, along with the Oakland A’s and the Raiders offer assistance to the victims of the fire.
8:30 p.m. Saturday
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee issued a statement on the Oakland Fire:
“The fire in Oakland and the loss of so many is heartbreaking. I have been in touch with Mayor Schaaf and have offered the support and the condolences of the City and County of San Francisco. Our hearts and thoughts are with all of those affected by this tragedy.”
UC Berkeley’s student paper, The Daily Californian says at least three of the missing are UC students.
9 p.m. Saturday
Alameda County Sheriff Department says seven of the nine victims have been identified and they are notifying the next of kin.
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CONTINUING COVERAGE: Deadly Oakland Warehouse Fire