Ghost Ship Fire Report Released
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death attorney. On June 20, 2017, the Oakland Fire Department released a 50-page report detailing what happened on December 2, 2016 when 36 souls were lost in a fire at an electronic music concert.
About the Fire
It was three weeks before Christmas in 2016 when the morning news began with a report of a serious fire in the Oakland warehouse district. Over the ensuing days, the death toll continued to climb as reports of the horrific fire emerged. In total, 36 people, many of them young adults, died in the blaze at the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship.
About the Report
The Origin and Cause report released by the Oakland Fire Department on 20 June was created with the assistance of fire investigators from the Oakland Fire Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and the Alameda County Arson Task Force.
The report includes weather conditions on the night of the fire, details of the building owners, and information on the insurance. It also goes through firefighters’ responses to the blaze and witness and victim reports of the interior. The bulk of the report then details investigators efforts to determine what exactly happened.
Key Findings: Cause of the Fire
According to the report, investigators were unable to determine an exact cause of the fire. They were able to determine that the fire started in the northwest section of the first floor. Due to the extent of the damage in the building, investigators did not have enough evidence to conclusively state any other information about the start of the fire.
Investigators could not rule out a carelessly discarded cigarette, candles, burning incense, or the electrical system as a cause of the fire. Many surviving residents believe the electrical system was the cause of the fire as there were previous problems involving power within the building.
Investigators did not find any evidence that the fire was intentionally set. They also do not believe that a gas appliance or gas leak was responsible for the fire.
Key Findings: Interior of the Building
Investigators did find that the interior of the building was extremely cluttered with everything from pianos to travel trailers. They acknowledged that this complicated both firefighting and investigation efforts.
Additionally, they found that the building had insufficient fire prevention systems and improperly marked emergency exits. Survivors and firefighters reported a maze-like layout which is believed to have contributed to the high number of fatalities.
Building Owners Arrested for Manslaughter
This report was released a mere two weeks after the fire, the building landlord and one of the building’s tenants were charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. The landlord was charged on the basis that he oversaw a hazardous and illegal living space.
Both were also charged for their role in organizing the concert that turned deadly. Authorities believe the two men showed a willful disregard for human life in their decision to host a concert on the premises.
Civil and Criminal Lawsuits
Whether the two men are convicted or not, they still may be found responsible for the tragedy in a civil court. The burden of evidence is lower in a civil case, so it is simpler to prove liability. Families of the victims are likely to therefore continue with their pending wrongful death lawsuit against the landlord. An experienced premises liability lawyer can help in these situations.
Related Articles by Ed Smith ~
- Oakland Warehouse Fire
- Oakland Warehouse Fire Update
- Right Type of Fire Report Can Help your Civil Lawsuit
Sacramento Wrongful Death Attorney
I am Ed Smith and I am a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer. If you have been injured in a fire or you have lost a loved one, I encourage you to contact me at (916) 921-6400 or toll free at (800) 404-5400. I can help you look at your options and determine how to go forward.
I also welcome you to look at my Past Verdicts and Settlements page.
My successful career has allowed me to become a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commos
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