Arrested In Oakland Warehouse Fire That Killed 36

Ruben Ruiz
June 6, 2017

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley is expected to announce the official filing of criminal charges at 1:00 the Alameda County Courthouse.

Both men were arrested earlier Monday.

At the time of the fire, the Ghost Ship lacked proper permits and was under investigation for its cramped conditions, electrical wiring issues, and unlicensed interior building structures.

The warehouse, which was zoned and permitted only as a warehouse, became a live-and-work space for many artists. That act violated city and state codes, the documents allege. "They allowed large groups to assemble in the warehouse for unpermitted and unsafe musical events in that space".

Almena posted to Facebook, a message many thought was insensitive, after hearing about the fire at his warehouse, according to NBC Bay Area. During preparation for the electronic dance show, Harris allegedly blocked off a second stairwell that had served as an exit, leaving guests only one way out when flames began to devour the building.

Drenick would not say whether more criminal charges will be filed. The fire took place during a musical event late Friday night.

Numerous complaints were directed at the lot, pointing to a "ton of garbage piling up on the property" as well as the "illegal interior building structure" at the warehouse, according to city records released Tuesday.

Authorities say Almena was in charge of the Ghost Warehouse artist community and was responsible for the concert that was being staged on December 2, 2016, when the fire erupted in the artist workplace/living facility. Their reckless actions were the proximate cause of the death of the 36 individuals trapped inside the warehouse when the fire started.

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The "Ghost Ship" was filled with combustible wooden objects and didn't have a sprinkler system.

Almena's attorney, Tony Serra, was not immediately available and a receptionist referred calls to Serra's associate Jeffrey Krasnoff, who said "no comment" before hanging up the phone.

While rare, prosecutors have brought manslaughter charges following non-arson fires.

Harris has described himself as Almena's second-in-command and said he would collect rent when Almena was away. She retired on May 5 amid criticism over her management of the department and inspection procedures. "And they are now facing the consequences of their actions". "And I'm usually the one who says goodbye to them at the end of the night as well". "We all have a lot of anger at Derick for all of this.

A reasonable person would know that", O'Malley said. Almena and Harris are also defendants in civil lawsuits filed on behalf of the fire victims. They have also sued PG&E, saying the utility supplied power to the doomed artist space with "blatant disregard" for the safety of the people in the building.

She wrote that at the top of the stairs was what witnesses described as a ramp or "gang plank" connecting the stairs to the second floor and witnesses described them "as risky and narrow, only allowing a group of people to travel up or down the stairs in a single file".

According to reports which emerged at the time of the incident, the complex was packed with furniture, mannequins and other objects that obstructed the fire crew's efforts in stopping the fire.

Other reports by GizPress

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