Some Victims of the Oakland Warehouse Fire Texted Family Members Before Dying
The blaze has claimed at least 36 lives.
— -- Some victims of the Oakland, California, warehouse fire that killed at least 36 people texted messages to relatives such as, "I'm going to die" and "I love you," according to Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly.
Ten more victims were identified overnight. The 36 people who died ranged in age from 21 to 35 and primarily hailed from the Bay Area. All of them died of smoke inhalation, officials said.
Authorities are not expecting the death toll to rise further from the Friday night blaze, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahren told reporters today.
He also said that officials were working from a list of 50 people whose whereabouts are unknown but that not all the missing may be directly related to the blaze, which a fleeing survivor described as looking like a "wall of fire."
Oakland Mourns Victims of Warehouse Fire
Of the 36 victims, 22 have been positively identified, and their families have been notified, the city said in a statement. An additional 10 victims have been tentatively identified, and three victims need scientific identification. Three of the victims were from outside the country, from Finland, South Korea and Guatemala.
The Oakland Fire Department first responded to reports of a structure fire at the 4,000-square-foot warehouse known as the Ghost Ship around 11:32 p.m. Friday night. Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed told reporters Monday that the facility appeared to function as a residential building and hosted a makeshift artists' studio as well as parties like the one that took place Friday night.
Authorities on Sunday asked families with missing loved ones who they believe attended the party to preserve DNA samples as a way of confirming the identities of those who died in the blaze, and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office launched a criminal investigation into the incident.
Investigators are trying to determine whether there was criminal liability and, if so, who was responsible, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said. If charges are brought, they could range from murder to involuntary manslaughter.
Reed told reporters Monday that the history of the building is being examined for clues about how the fire started.
"The city of Oakland is still looking at the history with the building … We've got a vibrant community in Oakland that we embrace, and we obviously want to make sure that we're preventing any disasters like this in the future," she said.
Oakland police responded to numerous calls about the warehouse in the past, the department said, but it is unclear what they concerned or how many were made.
Darin Ranelletti, who is serving as the interim director of the city's planning and building department, told reporters this morning that the warehouse is now under investigation to determine whether it was used to house people illegally.
He added that the party that was hosted Friday required a permit, which he said had not been obtained.
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