Oakland warehouse fire death toll at 36 amid search for cause

Authorities announced Wednesday, the search of the Oakland warehouse where a deadly fire occurred Friday night has been completed. No additional victims were located. 

Oakland city officials released the names of nine more victims who were identified from the Ghost Ship fire late Tuesday night. Their families were also identified. They include: 

Billy Dixon, 35, Oakland, Calif., Johnny Igaz, 34, Oakland, Calif., Ara Jo, 29, Oakland, Calif., Amanda Kershaw, 34, San Francisco, Calif., Griffin Madden, 23, Berkeley, Calif., Vanessa Plotkin, 21, Oakland, Calif., Hanna Ruax, 32, Helsinki, Finland, Nicole Siegrist, 29, Oakland, Calif. and Alex Vega, 22, San Bruno, Calif.

According to officials, a building inspector who went to an Oakland warehouse before a deadly fire, but couldn't get inside, sent a request to the owner to gain entry.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Tuesday the building inspector followed routine procedure when unable to gain entry to a property. That procedure is to contact the owner. She did not reveal the outcome of that request.

City and state officials fielded years of complaints about dangerous conditions, drugs, neglected children, trash, thefts and squabbles at the warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship,  raising questions about why it wasn't shut down.

A building inspector went to the site on Nov. 17 after receiving a complaint of illegal interior construction. City officials have said he wasn't allowed inside.

Schaaf said building inspectors typically cannot force entry to a property unless there are pressing circumstances.

Meanwhile, sheriff's officials said they have identified 35 of the 36 victims and notified 30 families. One victim has not yet been identified. Officials said they were in the process of notifying five other families. 

At a Tuesday evening news conference, city officials announced a local state of emergency to quality for state and federal funds to deal with the fire. 

Rep. Barbara Lee spoke and thanked everyone for their "dignified" response and offered her condolences to the victims' families. She assured that state and federal agencies were committed to assisting Oakland in its recovery efforts. 

Earlier on Tuesday, new details on a possible source of the deadly Oakland warehouse fire were released. 

According to Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, evidence at the scene of the deadly warehouse fire suggests the source of the fire may have been a refrigerator. One of the people who escaped the fire told authorities there were flames coming from the refrigerator. "On that back wall, there's a significant 45 degree angle burn," said Sheriff Ahern, which could indicate it was the source of the fire. 

Additional details on a possible source have not been released. 

According to Sheriff Ahern, two victims were found who appeared to be hugging when they died. It appeared the male was trying to shield the female from the flames. "For our people to see that, it was very emotional for them," said Sheriff Ahern.  The pair was found on top of one of the RVs in the center of the building. He believed a floor collapsed, and the male and female, along with another person, landed on top of the RV. 

Sheriff Ahern added there were a total of seven RVs inside the warehouse.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives SF Field Division said they will release information regarding the cause of fire when it is officially determined. 

Mayor Schaaf concluded her portion of Tuesday's news conference by saying a request on information for the number of warehouses in Oakland is being compiled, but was not prepared to draw conclusions from the history of this specific building as information on it was still being compiled.

Officials said on Monday that three of the victims were international; from Finland, Guatemala and Korea.  


By Tuesday, PG&E had restored power to the area, according to police. A planned outage had affected about 50-500 customers in the immediate area of the fire so crews could bring a crane to the site without bumping into active power lines and to help with the recovery effort. 

Late Sunday evening, officials released the identities of seven people who died in the blaze. Those victims have been identified as:

  • Cash Askew, 22, Oakland, Calif.
  • David Clines, 35, Oakland, Calif.
  • Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, Coronado, Calif.
  • Sara Hoda, 30, Walnut Creek, Calif.
  • Travis Hough, 35, Oakland, Calif.
  • Donna Kellogg, 32, Oakland, Calif.
  • Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, Hayward, Calif.
  • Draven McGrill, 17, according to the SFGate

On Monday evening the coroner released the following names of victims who were identified:

  • Em Bohlka, 33, Oakland, Calif.
  • Micah Danemayer, 28, Oakland, Calif.
  • Chelsea Dolan, 33, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Feral Pines, 29, Berkeley, Calif. 
  • Alex Ghassan, 35, Oakland, Calif.
  • Michela Gregory, 20, South San Francisco, Calif.
  • Edmund Lapine, 34, Oakland, Calif.
  • Jennifer Morris, 21, Foster City, Calif.
  • Benjamin Runnels, 32, Oakland, Calif.
  • Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, Oakland, Calif.

On Tuesday evening the coroner released the following names of victims who were identified: 

  • Billy Dixon, 35, Oakland, Calif.
  • Johnny Igaz, 34, Oakland, Calif.
  • Ara Jo, 29, Oakland, Calif. 
  • Amanda Kershaw, 34, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Griffin Madden, 23, Berkeley, Calif.
  • Vanessa Plotkin, 21, Oakland, Calif.
  • Hanna Ruax, 32, Helsinki, Finland
  • Nicole Siegrist, 29, Oakland, Calif.
  • Alex Vega, 22, San Bruno, Calif. 

Learn more about the victims here. 

The City of Oakland worked with the Red Cross to start a fund for the victims of this tragedy - donations can be made here. 

Stay with KTVU.com for updates on this developing story.