US & World

Record label owner in Oakland warehouse fire speaks out

Firefighters inspect an Oakland warehouse where a fire during a rave killed dozens of people on Friday, December 2, 2016.
Firefighters inspect an Oakland warehouse where a fire during a rave killed dozens of people on Friday, December 2, 2016.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The co-owner of Los Angeles-based record label has spoken out for the first time following a deadly fire at a warehouse party in Oakland Friday night.

As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll had risen to 33 — but that's with only 20% of the warehouse cleared. Up to two dozen more people may still be missing.

Firefighters investigate the scene of a fire that claimed the lives of dozens of people at a warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland on December 3, 2016.
Firefighters investigate the scene of a fire that claimed the lives of dozens of people at a warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland on December 3, 2016.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Britt Brown co-owns the L.A.-based electronic imprint 100% Silk, which has made a name for itself the last few years issuing vinyl releases and developing a stable of artists. One of those is Golden Donna, the stage name of Wisconsin-based musician Joel Shanahan, who was performing Friday night at the Fruitvale warehouse as it caught fire.

Brown tells our media partner NBC 4 what Shanahan told him about the struggle to escape the flames:

"It was just kind of immediately, the one place you needed to get through, there was so much smoke it was hard to breathe, and that's what made it so extra frantic."

Shanahan made it out safely but two other artists from the label who were slated to perform that night remain unaccounted for.

Firefighters investigate the scene of a overnight fire that claimed the lives of dozens of people at a warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland on December 3, 2016.
Firefighters investigate the scene of a overnight fire that claimed the lives of dozens of people at a warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland on December 3, 2016.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

 

Authorities continue to search the destroyed building for more victims, but it's painstaking work according to KQED reporter Sandhya Dirks.

"They've been basically getting the debris out bucket by bucket," she tells KPCC. "There's no official word on the cause of the fire. They haven't even been able to get to within the warehouse where it started to even be able to begin that kind of investigation."

Information has emerged that this building may have had issues with permitting and safety before the fire.

"It's kind of an unregulated building," Dirks says. "It wasn't supposed to have people living in it. As this artist's warehouse, it did have people living in it. There is some information that there had been people looking into the safety of the bldg."

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf is reportedly sitting with the families whose loved ones have been recovered. Officials haven't announced the names of the victims because they're informing families first. That information is expected to be released later Sunday.