The Oakland Fire


ABC News

The Ghostship warehouse in Oakland, California burns down on December 2.

Lizzie Quinlivan, Contributing Writer

Oakland, California experienced one of its worst fires in history on Friday night. The fire was at a warehouse known as the Ghost Ship.  Many people called the Ghost Ship their home.

The fire broke out on Friday night during an electronic dance party, where DJ Golden Donna was scheduled to perform. Warehouse parties in the Oakland area usually hosted artists. The venue held many gatherings, even though most would agree that it wasn’t a safe place to host that many people. The people who lived in the warehouse were mostly struggling artists who needed a home and could survive paying little rent. The building was two stories tall, and the only way to get from the first story to the second was taking the improvised staircase made of pallets.

When the fire started, partygoers found themselves trapped by the flames. Photographer Bob Mule said “there was a lot of stuff in the way.” Escaping was hard for many because of the artwork that crowded each room. Firefighters arrived three minutes after the flames broke out, but not much could be done to stop the raging fire.

City officials say they have searched about 70% of the building since the fire,the death toll has already risen to 36. A survivor estimated that there were about 50 people in the building at the time of the fire. The youngest victim was identified as 17 years old. They believe the cause of the fire was a refrigerator malfunction.

Most of the bodies were found in the center of the building, where the party took place. Artist Anneke Hiatt said that “it just doesn’t seem that that’s a fire that’s survivable, so the reality, I think for a lot of us, is beginning to set in.”

As of Tuesday, December 6, there is a victim missing from Cohasset, a close community to Hingham. Peter Wadsworth, 38, has not yet been found. His friend Bob Mule said “[he was] 100 percent certain that [Wadsworth] did not make it.”

The Oakland community mourns the loss of 36 lives, and the communities of the victims are mourning as well. A memorial has been created near the scene of the fire for loved ones and strangers to remember those who lost their lives on December 2.