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Oakland fire survivor: "It all happened really quick"
OAKLAND, Calif. -- It started as a Friday night party inside a renovated warehouse -- and it ended in what may be the deadliest structure fire in Oakland’s history.
At a two-story building in Oakland’s Fruitvale District, at least nine people are dead and more than two dozen others are unaccounted for. Officials say many of the victims were in their 20s.
Flames tore through the converted warehouse during an electronic music party late Friday night. Crews attacked the blaze from every angle as fire and smoke poured through windows and walls.
One survivor said he struggled to find a working fire extinguisher. “It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there,” Bob Mule, a photographer and artist who lives at the building and suffered minor burns, told the East Bay Times. “I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work.”
After the fire broke out, Mule and a friend split ways.
“I haven’t seen him, and there’s been flames shooting out of the building for the past 30 minutes,” Mule said. “I hope he’s OK.”
It was not immediately clear what started the fire, Deloche-Reed said. She said 50 to 100 people were believed to have been at the party when the fire started and that clutter “made it difficult for people to escape.”
The warehouse was partitioned into artist studios and was packed with furniture, mannequins, statues, lamps, and other objects and did not have a clear entry or exit path, the fire chief said.
“There is still a large portion of the building that still needs to be searched,” she said. “There is large timber and debris that will need to be removed and it’s going to have to be removed in a slow and methodical way.”
The fire caused the building’s roof to collapse and investigators were having trouble entering parts of the warehouse to search for any remaining bodies because the structure was deemed unsafe, Deloche-Reed said.
As emergency crews sift through the debris, Alameda sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly says they expect the death toll to rise.
“We’re prepared for a mass casualty event,” Kelly said. “I’m not going to throw out numbers here at this point but we’re prepared to deal with several dozen fatalities as a result of this fire.”
Oakland fire kills at least 9 at warehouse party - KMOV.com
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(Published Tuesday, July 28, 2015)
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