OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Outrage on social media is swirling around the man behind the 24-hour artist’s collective known as the Ghost Ship.
The focus right now is on the victims, and their families as authorities focus on the recovery effort to bring closure to loved ones.
But, soon the investigation will also focus on who is responsible for the horrific tragedy, and right now many eyes are on the building’s master tenant – Derick Alemany – among others.
Alemany goes by the name Derick Ion – reportedly the head of the Oakland Ghost Ship Artists Collective, a live-work warehouse, and the scene of what is now the deadliest fire in Oakland’s history.
In some YouTube video, his behavior appeared erratic.
Continuing Coverage: Deadly Oakland Warehouse Fire
In others, he talks about the festival culture, and offered a rambling description of his desire for a simplistic life.
“Build things out of the earth. Build barns, and houses, and evolve. Oh my god that’s a life,” he said in the video.
Another video from 2012 depicts an elaborate concert called Viva Muerta, or living dead, complete with flames.
Ion sparked backlash on Facebook after a post appeared on his page early Saturday morning.
“Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound. It’s as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope…. to be standing now in poverty of self-worth,” he posted.
The post quickly received thousands of comments chastising him for his insensitivity and blaming him for the dozens of deaths.
Ion and his partner were reportedly warned the building was unsafe – especially for his three children. The two allegedly rented a handful of recreational vehicles and nooks used as living spaces in the warehouse building – which was not permitted for work or living spaces
Photos from before the fire, show the ground floor filled with beds, tapestries, art work, and wood structures.
Rescue workers referred to it as a tinder box that likely fuel the fire there were no sprinklers in the building, and they described the bottom floor as a labyrinth that likely prevent escape.
One former friend of Ion’s told KPIX 5 she had tried to warn him about the conditions at the Ghost Ship.
“On several occasions stood in front of the building and said Derek this is not safe, your kids are in danger, and his attitude was that I was being hysterical,” former friend Danielle Boudreaux said.
The party was held on an unpermitted second floor – the only exit was a rickety staircase made of pallets that collapsed trapping dozens in the blaze.
Again, officials say they are focusing on recovery and victims, and there has been no official criminal investigation opened.
The Oakland planning a building department said Ion did not request the required permit for Saturday night’s party.
The building’s owner says she was unaware there people living in it.
We were unable to reach Ion for comment.