Officials Fear Up to 40 Dead in Oakland Warehouse Party Fire

Virginie Goubierv/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters assess the scene where a fire tore through a warehouse party early Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 in Oakland. 

A San Francisco Bay Area fire chief says the converted warehouse where a fire killed at least nine people was extremely cluttered and would have been difficult to escape in an emergency.

Oakland police Officer G. Plasencia says the fire department responded about 11:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 2) and that firefighters were still on the scene early Saturday morning. Oakland firefighters tweeted video of the fire erupting through the roof.

Authorities say about 50 people were inside the building, which houses a group of artists and their studios.

"Majority of the fatalities, the victims, were found on the second floor," said Chief Teresa Deloach Reed of the Oakland Fire Department. "It must've been a very fast moving fire, I can't make those assumptions though. But I do know that nine people were not able to get out."

Chief Deloach Reed says the building was packed with furniture, mannequins and statues and that it did not have a clear entry or exit path.

Deloach Reed says the only way out of the second floor was a makeshift stairwell made of pallets. She says the roof collapsed and there is a lot of debris that will have to be painstakingly removed.

The building was partitioned into artist studios.

Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson says officials with the coroner's office haven't recovered any bodies from because the building is still deemed unsafe.

The cause of the fire is still unclear.


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