Oakland Warehouse Fire: Most Lethal Building Fire in U.S. in a Decade
Death Toll Rises to 36 in Horrific Oakland Warehouse Fire
Investigators continue to dig through the rubble left in the aftermath of the devastating Oakland warehouse fire that left 36 people dead. 35 victims have been identified. The family members of 20 victims have been notified of the tragedy. Investigators do not anticipate finding any more victims in what is left of the building in the aftermath of the Oakland warehouse fire.
The Oakland warehouse fire lawyer team at The Doan Law Office, at (800) 349-0000, is available to discuss the potential legal ramifications of the devastating fire. This includes discussing the application of California laws in regard to an Oakland warehouse wire wrongful death lawsuit.
Potential Source of Devastating Oakland Warehouse Fire
In the immediate aftermath of the horrific Oakland warehouse fire, investigators debated whether or not a criminal investigation should be initiated. Ultimately, law enforcement agencies from the local, state, and national level became involved in the process to ensure that nothing was overlooked in this regard.
The San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is part of the investigation. The ATF investigators have stated that, at this juncture, there is not evidence that the fire was ignited intentionally. Investigators are focusing their attention on an area on the first floor of the warehouse where they now believe the fire initially started, quickly spreading upward to the second floor of the building where a concert was underway, attended by about 70 people.
Investigators have begun focusing on anything electrical in that area. A refrigerator is a prime target of this analysis at this time, and is considered as the likely root cause of the fatal blaze.
Rampant Code Violations
The focus of the investigation is on both the owner of the warehouse as well as a person who leased the building from the landlord. The building was constructed for use as a warehouse. There are questions as to whether the building was up to code for even use as a warehouse at the time of the fire.
The person who leased the facility converted it into what he called and others called an art collective. The interior was partitioned into art studios. In addition, despite initial statements to the contrary by the owner and the tenant, there were also clearly illegal living spaces in the building.
The second floor was more of an open space. This area was used on the night of the fire for a concert and dance party. The organizers of this event failed to obtain a proper permit from the city for the concert and dance party.
In obtaining a permit, someone from the city would have come out and inspected the premises before making a determination on whether or not to issue a permit. A spokesperson for the city indicated that no permit would have been issued approving the concert and dance party because of the state of the building.
In fact, a city building inspector went to the premises on November 17, 2016, in response to a complaint about illegal interior construction. Both the partitioning of studio and the illegal living spaces would constitute illegal interior construction. The inspector was not able to gain access to the building.
The Mayor of Oakland stated that the inspector followed protocol and then sent a written request to the owner of the building to gain access. The owner had not responded to the request.
The Mayor further noted that in order to obtain entrance into the building, a court order was needed. Forced entry cannot be made into a property absent a "pressing circumstance," according to the Mayor. The Mayor did not define what does and does not constitute a pressing circumstance.
City and state officials have received innumerable complaints about the warehouse. These include:
- dangerous conditions
- neglected children
The sheer number of serious complaints lodged in regard to the building, and activities on the premises, raise serious questions as to why official action was taken sooner. Indeed, many people have been left wondering why the building was not shuttered by the state or city well before the outbreak of the tragic fire that took so many lives.
Criminal Charges in Oakland Warehouse Fire Possible
Keep in mind that there are laws on the books that can result in criminal charges being filed when an individual intentionally starts a fire or when a person engaged in some type of reckless activity that results in a blaze. The District Attorney has stated that murder charges are a possibility, depending on what potential crimes may be linked to the fatal fire.
Oakland Warehouse Fire Wrongful Death Claim
"I am going to die." More than one victim of the Oakland warehouse fire texted this message to their loved ones in the final moments of their lives. Some victims also managed to text "I love you."
In the aftermath of this inferno, certain family members who lost loved ones in the Oakland warehouse fire have the legal standing to pursue a wrongful death claim or wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation in an Oakland warehouse fire wrongful death case can include:
- lost companionship
- lost constortium
- mental and psychological injury
- lost income and support
- funeral and burial expenses
Oakland Warehouse Fire Lawyer at The Doan Law Firm
An Oakland warehouse fire lawyer at The Doan Law Firm stands ready to assist a victim of the devastating inferno. An initial consultation can be scheduled at your convenience by calling our Oakland warehouse fire hotline at (800) 349-0000. Our phone line is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is no charge for an initial consultation with an attorney from our firm.
The Doan Law Firm is located at:
Oakland 1901 Harrison Street
Oakland California 94612