Unsafe building stalls investigation of Oakland, Calif., warehouse fire

A search of an Oakland warehouse, where a fire broke out during a dance Friday, was stopped Monday because of hazardous conditions and fear of a potentially collapsing wall. The bodies of 36 people have been recovered from the fire thus far, with the death toll expected to increase. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 5 (UPI) — Firefighters postponed their investigation of an Oakland warehouse fire Monday morning after authorities said the building was unstable.

The search stopped after it was determined a wall of the building posed a structural hazard for crews searching for victims, Oakland Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton said, after a firefighter atop the building observed a wall has a “slight lean,” stopping the search.

“Working under a wobbly, potentially collapsing exterior wall is extremely dangerous. We will not put our firefighters in danger at this point and we will not put Alameda County sheriff [deputies] in that precarious situation with us.”

There have been 36 confirmed fatalities from Friday’s fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse, where a party was underway on the second floor of an unlicensed spacefor artists’ studios and residences. Drayton said about 70 percent of the building has been searched, and she expects the death toll to rise.

Firefighters said they believe they know the origin of the fire, immediately beneath the second-floor dance area, and say they are studying an area in which twisted steel, from the heat of the fire, can be found. Federal ATF agents are also assisting in the investigation.


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