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Crime & Justice

Oakland fire: dangerous conditions hamper recovery effort




This warehouse fire broke out during a rave in Oakland, California on Saturday, December 3, 2016.
This warehouse fire broke out during a rave in Oakland, California on Saturday, December 3, 2016.
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At least 36 people are confirmed dead in a fire at a warehouse party in Oakland late Friday night.

Officials say it's the worst fire tragedy in the city's history.

It started during a dance party at an artists' collective on site known as the Ghost Ship.

Authorities are still investigating the scene to determine what started the fire, and to possibly find more victims.

"They were mostly young people in their 20s and 30s," says East Bay Times reporter Julia Prodis Sulek. "A lot of them were just starting out their lives, just having a great evening with a community they could really connect with."

Firefighters are also racing against time to survey the warehouse – the roof collapsed, and a rain storm is expected to hit on Wednesday.

"It's a very dangerous, very somber effort right now,"  says Prodis Sulek. 

The man behind Ghost Ship, Derick Almena, also outfitted the space with many woodworking projects, and that wood may have been fuel for the fire.

"The staircase leading to the second floor – the main access to the second floor and the main escape route – was made of wooden pallets and plywood," says Prodis Sulek. "He had built a bonfire, and all it took was a match."

Hear more of Take Two's interview with Julia Prodis Sulek by using the blue audio player above