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Criminal Investigation Underway As Death Toll Climbs To Near 40 In Oakland Warehouse Fire (Video)

UPDATE: Warehouse where up to 40 died in fire had NO living or party permits and city officials attempt to inspect failed

The death toll in the Oakland warehouse fire climbed to 36 Monday with more bodies still feared buried in the blackened ruins, and families anxiously awaited word of their missing loved ones.

The laborious job of digging with shovels and buckets through the debris was suspended overnight because of a dangerously unstable wall but was expected to resume.

Flames tore through the building, known as the "Ghost Ship," during a dance party Friday night. The cluttered warehouse had been converted to artists' studios and illegal living spaces, and former denizens said it was a death trap of piled wood, furniture, snaking electrical cords and only two exits.

It was the most lethal building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade.

Authorities have identified 11 of the bodies but withheld some of the names. Those whose identities were yet to be released included a 17-year-old and the son of a sheriff's deputy, authorities said.

Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials expect the death toll to rise, but he wouldn't speculate how high it might go.

Investigators said they believe they have located the section of the building where the fire started, but the cause remains unknown.

Also, the district attorney's sent a team to search for evidence of a crime in the warehouse, which was already under investigation by the city for possible code violations.

The space had a permit to operate as a warehouse only. Neighbors had complained of people living there illegally, trash piling up and other unsafe conditions.

A growing memorial of flowers, candles and notes paid tribute to the missing and the dead.

Kai Thomas and a group of red-eyed classmates from an arts high school in San Francisco pressed against police tape Sunday near the street corner. They lost a friend in the blaze.

Three of the boys had been in the cramped and dark building, Thomas said, but one got separated from them just before someone yelled, "Fire!"

"It was just really smoky and hard to see," said Thomas, who wasn't there but recounted what he had been told by two others who didn't want to speak. "They jumped off the second-floor balcony and ran out."

The boys waited for their 17-year-old friend for more than three hours, but he never emerged.

Jesse James Alexander, a DJ who wasn't at the party, showed up at the scene Sunday to remember three friends who were killed, though he didn't want to give their names.

Others were still holding out hope.

Outside a sheriff's office where people gathered for word of their loved ones, Yuri Kundin said he was hoping for good news about two of his friends, Alex Ghassan and Hanna Henriikka Ruax, who was from Finland.

One of the many notes left on a sidewalk around the corner from the remains of the warehouse read: "Praying for you. ... Hope you're still here."

The couple who operated the building's arts colony, called the Satya Yuga collective, were identified as Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison. They were believed to have been away at the time of the blaze.

The couple had a troubled relationship, said Michael Allison of Portland, Oregon, the father of Micah Allison. He and other family members persuaded his daughter to go to a drug rehabilitation center in 2015, but Almena talked his way into the clinic and got Micah to leave with him, Michael Allison said.

The couple's three children had lice and needed new clothes, prompting family to call child-protective services, said Michael Allison, who wept as he spoke.

But Almena and his partner eventually were able to win custody of the children back and cut off all communication with Michael Allison, the father said.

"Whenever I could, I would to talk to (Micah) to get away from him because I knew he was dangerous from day one," he said. "All of that has now been proven."

A man identified as Derick Ion posted a Facebook message early Saturday, saying: "Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound."

Almena did not immediately respond to emails or calls to phone numbers associated with him. No one answered a call to a number for Micah Allison.

Almena had leased the space from its owner and then rented five recreational vehicles and other nooks on the ground floor as living spaces, said Danielle Boudreaux, a former friend of Almena and Allison. They held regular concerts and dance parties, like the one Friday, to make money, Boudreaux said.

Shelley Mack was drawn there two years ago by the promise of living among artists and paying a reasonable amount in an area where the tech boom has created a housing shortage and driven up rents. She left after a few months.

"Some people were happy to have a roof over their head even though there was no heat or no place to eat or that it was filthy and infested," Mack said.

"You just get sucked in because it seems like it's this nice place and this artistic community and they talk a good game. There are people there that wanted to be there and believed in it. And I think I did too for a little bit. And then I afterward, I was like, um, no."

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Nine dead, many missing, in California party fire Deloach-Reed said that when fire crews first entered the building to fight the blaze, they were impeded by a massive amount of clutter that included furniture, art and several mannequins. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

  • Officials say at least nine people died in massive fire that was held in an Oakland warehouse 
  • Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed said that at least another 25 people are still unaccounted 
  • She said: 'We still have to do a more thorough search of the building and we don't know the potential number of other victims' 
  • Officials say there was no sprinkler system in the two-story building and firefighters saw no evidence that smoke detectors were activated during the blaze
  • Crews found flames on three sides of building when they arrived to scene after fire started around 11:30pm 
  • Alameda County Sheriffs Office Sgt. J.D. Nelson said coroner's office is preparing for 40 or more bodies 
  • Party in city's Fruitvale district was part of musician Golden Donna's '100% Silk' West Coast tour 
  • Just last month city officials cited the owner of the warehouse and had launched an investigation into whether the interior structure was illegal 
  • Oakland police said those concerned about missing people should contact the Alameda County Sheriff's Coroner's Bureau 510-382-3000

The destroyed building is known as The Oakland Ghost Ship, as authorities say firefighters had a difficult time getting inside due to massive amounts of clutter. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

Deloach-Reed said that fire crews found a 'makeshift stairwell' between the first and second floor and that most people who died were on the second floor of the building. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

Deloach-Reed said that fire crews found a 'makeshift stairwell' between the first and second floor and that most people who died were on the second floor of the building. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

Deloach-Reed said that when fire crews first entered the building to fight the blaze, they were impeded by a massive amount of clutter that included furniture, art and several mannequins. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

Deloach-Reed said that when fire crews first entered the building to fight the blaze, they were impeded by a massive amount of clutter that included furniture, art and several mannequins. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

She said: 'It filled end to end with furniture, whatnot, collections,' Deloach-Reed said. 'It was like a maze almost.' The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

She said: 'It filled end to end with furniture, whatnot, collections,' Deloach-Reed said. 'It was like a maze almost.' The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

It's unclear exactly how many people were inside of the building at the time of the deadly blaze. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

It's unclear exactly how many people were inside of the building at the time of the deadly blaze. The interior of the warehouse before the fire is pictured above in an undated photo

A city inspector had attempted to secure access to the building on November 17, but the official was not able to enter inside.  The city has not confirmed people were living inside. 

Also during the press conference, a city official said the building had no permits for a party to be held at the space.

Deloach-Reed said that fire crews found a 'makeshift stairwell' between the first and second floor and that most people who died were on the second floor of the building that only had two exits.

She said that when fire crews first entered the building to fight the blaze, they were impeded by a massive amount of clutter that included furniture, art and several mannequins. 

'It filled end to end with furniture, whatnot, collections,' Deloach-Reed said. 'It was like a maze almost.'

She said 50 to 100 people were believed to have been at the party when the fire started and that clutter 'made it difficult for people to escape.' 

Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said they fear up to 40 people could have possibly died in the blaze that has destroyed the warehouse (above)

Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said they fear up to 40 people could have possibly died in the blaze that has destroyed the warehouse (above)

At least nine people died and 25 are still missing after a massive fire destroyed the Oakland warehouse during a party early Saturday morning

At least nine people died and 25 are still missing after a massive fire destroyed the Oakland warehouse during a party early Saturday morning

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said that she's spent most of the day with the family's of loved ones waiting for information.

'This is a devastating scene. This is going to take time to do a methodical investigation,' she said. 

As of 6pm ET, authorities were only able to recover one of the deceased, as the building was not completely stabilized for them to go in and recover the rest. 

They said they were working to stabilize the building, since the roof had collapsed onto the second floor, which collapsed onto the first floor making their process difficult. 

Earlier in the day, some Facebook users commenting on a post about those who have been reported missing by family or friends shared their experiences at The Oakland Ghost Ship and how it apparently was severely disorganized by the clutter.

Oakland Police Department PIO Johnna Watson speaks to the media at a press conference as firefighters and investigators continue work at the scene of the warehouse fire

Oakland Police Department PIO Johnna Watson speaks to the media at a press conference as firefighters and investigators continue work at the scene of the warehouse fire

A person collapses to the street as coroners begin work at the scene of the warehouse fire on Saturday

A person collapses to the street as coroners begin work at the scene of the warehouse fire on Saturday

An emotional man covers his face outside of the warehouse that was destroyed by a fire on Saturday

An emotional man covers his face outside of the warehouse that was destroyed by a fire on Saturday

Flowers are placed on a street sign as people begin to leave memorials while firefighters and investigators continue work at the scene of the fire

Flowers are placed on a street sign as people begin to leave memorials while firefighters and investigators continue work at the scene of the fire

George Goatmandan Weber said on Facebook: 'This was the nightmare I always had about hazmat. I spent alotta (sic) time planning escape routes from that sh******.' 

Another user, Kristen Parks, replied back to him about how 'narrow' walkways were inside the building.   

'yes (sic) true no windows too. I remember this (sic) place being super scary escape wise with wood everywhere and narrow walkways'.

Just last month city officials cited the owner of the warehouse and had launched an investigation into whether the interior structure was illegal, records show.   

According to The East Bay Times, records show on November 13 a neighbor filed a complaint over a 'a ton of garbage piling up on the property' at 1305 31st Ave.

'Also, a lot of items are left on the sidewalk near the property,' the complaint said. 

'Some of trash was hazardous. This property is a storage but the owner turned it to become trash recycle site. 

'The yard became a trash collection site and the main building was remodel for residential. The change causes our neighborhood looks very bad and creates health issue.'

The Los Angeles Times reported that the building had at least three code violations this year.   

Some Facebook users commenting on a post about those who have been reported missing by family or friends have shared their experiences at The Oakland Ghost Ship and how it apparently was disorganized by the clutter

Some Facebook users commenting on a post about those who have been reported missing by family or friends have shared their experiences at The Oakland Ghost Ship and how it apparently was disorganized by the clutter

Just last month city officials cited the owner of the warehouse and had launched an investigation into whether the interior structure was illegal. Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

Just last month city officials cited the owner of the warehouse and had launched an investigation into whether the interior structure was illegal. Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

Records show on November 13 a neighbor filed a complaint over a 'a ton of garbage piling up on the property' at 1305 31st Ave. Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

Records show on November 13 a neighbor filed a complaint over a 'a ton of garbage piling up on the property' at 1305 31st Ave. Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

The next day the city launched an investigation into an illegal interior building structure, but the status of that investigation is unknown. Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

The next day the city launched an investigation into an illegal interior building structure, but the status of that investigation is unknown. Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale district and lives a block from where the fire occurred, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the building 'has been an issue for a number of years.' Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale district and lives a block from where the fire occurred, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the building 'has been an issue for a number of years.' Above firefighters work at the aftermath of the warehouse fire

The next day the city launched an investigation into an illegal interior building structure, but the status of that investigation is unknown.  

Property records list the owner as Chor N. Ng and that he purchased the warehouse in 1997. He also owns other properties in the city. 

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale district and lives a block from where the fire occurred, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the building 'has been an issue for a number of years.'

'People have been living inside, and the neighbors have complained about it,' he said. 

'Some of these young people that were in there were underage. They frequently had parties there.'

Michael Rosen described vivid details to The Daily Beast about the moments before the fire consumed the building, as one of his friends said, 'That place was a tinderbox.'

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement of condolences and said he and his wife, Anne, were saddened to hear about the deadly blaze.

In the statement Saturday he said: 'Our thoughts are with the entire city in this difficult time and we extend our condolences to the family and friends of those lost.'

The party located in the 1300 block of 31st Ave in the Fruitvale district of the city was part of musician Golden Donna's '100% Silk' West Coast tour

The party located in the 1300 block of 31st Ave in the Fruitvale district of the city was part of musician Golden Donna's '100% Silk' West Coast tour

Firefighters assess the scene where a fire tore through a warehouse party early Saturday

Firefighters assess the scene where a fire tore through a warehouse party early Saturday

Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed (above) said that at least another 25 people are still unaccounted for after the deadly blaze started around 11:30pm in the 1300 block of 31st Avenue during an event advertised as 'Rave Cave' featuring musician Golden Donna's 100% Silk West Coast tour

Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed (above) said that at least another 25 people are still unaccounted for after the deadly blaze started around 11:30pm in the 1300 block of 31st Avenue during an event advertised as 'Rave Cave' featuring musician Golden Donna's 100% Silk West Coast tour

Firefighters are still working at the aftermath of a warehouse fire in the Fruitvale district of Oakland at the corner of 31st Avenue and International Boulevard

Firefighters are still working at the aftermath of a warehouse fire in the Fruitvale district of Oakland at the corner of 31st Avenue and International Boulevard

It's unclear what started the deadly blaze that has left at least 9 people killed and dozens more missing

It's unclear what started the deadly blaze that has left at least 9 people killed and dozens more missing

Firefighters examine the roof of the warehouse to check its stability after a portion of it collapsed in the fire

Firefighters examine the roof of the warehouse to check its stability after a portion of it collapsed in the fire

Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said they fear up to 40 people could have possibly died. Arson investigators have been on the scene since the morning to help with investigation, as well as federal authorities. 

Kelly said that people inside during the party either escaped unscathed or were trapped inside. 

'Right now there's 25 names of people that have not been accounted for,' Deloach-Reed said.   

'We're not sure if they have already self-transported to the hospital or they have gone to friend's home. We're not sure. 

'This is a true loss for the city, for the firefighters who responded, and the people who lost family and friend. It's just tragic, a real tragedy.' 

The fire is thought to be one of the deadliest single-structure fires in Oakland's history. 

The part started at 9pm and was supposed to last until 4am, officials say.

Saya Tomioka posted on the event page for the party saying she was looking for Griffin Madden (above) who is believed to be missing as no one has heard from him 

Saya Tomioka posted on the event page for the party saying she was looking for Griffin Madden (above) who is believed to be missing as no one has heard from him 

Michela Gregory (pictured) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Michela Gregory (pictured) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Donna Kellogg (pictured) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Donna Kellogg (pictured) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Johnny Igaz is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Micah Danemayer is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Johnny Igaz (left) and Micah Danemayer (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Jalien Adrian (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Barrett Clark (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Jalien Adrian (left) and Barrett Clark (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Hanna Henriikka Ruax (left) and Alex Ghassan (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Hanna Henriikka Ruax (left) and Alex Ghassan (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Denalda Nicole Renae (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Alexander Archuleta (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Denalda Nicole Renae (left) and Alexander Archuleta (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

In terms of efforts of party-goers trying to flee or firefighters trying to rescue people, Deloach-Reed said, 'We know it was going to be difficult if it started anywhere near that stairwell.' 

Alameda County Sheriffs Office Sergeant J.D. Nelson told KTVU that the building is not safe enough to enter. 

He added that the coroner's office is preparing for 40 or more bodies, but no bodies have been removed from the building.

She explained that a multiagency task force was being created to investigate the fire and begin the task of recovering victims inside.  

'The building is a huge building,' Deloach-Reed said. 'There's going to have to be a methodical way we go about body recovery, and then also trying to find out where the fire started and how the fire's spread took place. ... We have not done a complete search of the building.'

Jennifer (Kiyomi) Tanouye (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Cash Askew (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Jennifer (Kiyomi) Tanouye (left) and Cash Askew (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Ara Jo (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Chelsea Faith (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

 Ara Jo (left) and Chelsea Faith (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Jonathan Bernbaum (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Feral Pines (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Jonathan Bernbaum (left) and Feral Pines (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Caw Charleston (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Jessi Canz (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Caw Charleston (left) and Jessi Canz (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Fifty-five firefighters battled the blaze at the scene, as crews found flames on three sides of the building located in the Fruitvale district of the city, Battalion Chief Lisa Baker told the East Bay Times

An aggressive attack on the fire was underway when conditions suddenly changed and firefighters had to go back outside. 

Officials say it took an estimated four hours to bring the huge blaze under control.

Firefighters are still at the scene along with police who are investigating what happened. International Boulevard is closed between Derby and Fruitvale avenues.

The Oakland Police Department says the building also functions as 'a live work/residence.'

Terry Lightfoot, a representative of Oakland's Highland Hospital, told CNN that 'the hospital received two patients and one of them has been discharged. Lightfoot did not know the condition of the patient who remained hospitalized.' 

David Cline (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Nick Gomez-Hall (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

David Cline (left) and Nick Gomez-Hall (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Nex Iuguolo (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Musician Alana Kane (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page

 Nex Iuguolo (left) and musician Alana Kane (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Peter Wadsworth (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Peter Wadsworth (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Musician Amanda Allen (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about her whereabouts on the Facebook event page
Musician Joseph Matlock (above) is thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about his whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Musician Amanda Allen (left) and musician Joseph Matlock (right) are thought to be missing as people have posted requesting information about their whereabouts on the Facebook event page

Sabrina May Dolan told DailyMail.com that her sister, Chelsea Faith, was performing at the party under her stage name Cherushii when the fire started on the second floor of the building. 

Dolan said she is standing by waiting for an update, as her sister still has not been located and cannot be reached.

The electronic dance musician headlining the warehouse party was Golden Donna, whose real name is Joel Shanahan, was reportedly performing when the fire broke out. 

Early reports indicated the Wisconsin-based musician was one of the missing, but a post on his Facebook late on Saturday morning confirmed he made it out of the blaze alive, according to CBS.

'Joel is safe but like many people he is heartbroken and has several friends among the missing,' the Facebook post read. 

'Please refrain from messaging this page or Joel's personal channels unless you have information on the Oakland fire victims. Sending love to everyone affected by this horrific event.'

Numerous people have been posting on the event page on Facebook about who they believe is missing, as others have posted on the event page to say they are safe and escaped the fire unharmed. 

'It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there,' Bob Mule, a photographer and artist who lives at the building and suffered minor burns, told the Times. 

'I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn't get the fire extinguisher to work.' 

Mule was able to make it out of the building that was engulfed in a matter of minutes.  

It's unclear how the fire started, as it's believed an artists' collective that is adjacent to the warehouse was also engulfed in flames. No firefighters were injured.

Oakland police said those who were concerned about missing people in the fire should contact the Alameda County Sheriff's Coroner's Bureau 510-382-3000. 

The electronic music label, 100% Silk, that hosted the party issued a statement offering up resources for friends and family of the victims.  

'What happened in Oakland is an unbelievable tragedy, a nightmare scenario. Britt and I are beside ourselves, utterly devastated,' the statement shared to Facebook reads. 

The electronic music label, 100% Silk, that hosted the party issued a statement (above) offering up resources for friends and family of the victims

The electronic music label, 100% Silk, that hosted the party issued a statement (above) offering up resources for friends and family of the victims

Officials say betwen 50 to 100 people were in the building for the party when the fire started around 11:30pm PT

Officials say betwen 50 to 100 people were in the building for the party when the fire started around 11:30pm PT

Fifty-five firefighters battled the blaze at the scene, as crews found flames on three sides of the building, Battalion Chief Lisa Baker told the East Bay Times

Fifty-five firefighters battled the blaze at the scene, as crews found flames on three sides of the building, Battalion Chief Lisa Baker told the East Bay Times

Numerous people have been posting on the event page on Facebook about who they believe is missing

Numerous people have been posting on the event page on Facebook about who they believe is missing

'We are a very tight community of artists and we are all praying, sending love and condolences to everyone involved and their families.

'Thank you for everyone who's been reaching out, we are hoping so hard for the best. We will be posting here on how you can help, and any information as it comes to us.' 

Schaaf released a statement late Saturday morning: 'Last night's fire was an immense tragedy. I am grateful to our first responders for their efforts to deal with this deadly fire.

'Our focus right now is on the victims and their families and ensuring that we have a full accounting for everyone who was impacted by this tragedy. 

'We are fully committed to sharing as much information as we can as quickly as possible.' 

Oakland Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington said: 'This is a huge tragedy for Oakland, such a deep loss of life last night.

'This is being reported as the worst structure fire in Oakland and I'm here to express my deepest condolences.'

A fire that erupted during a dance party at a warehouse used by an artists' collective in Oakland, California, killed at least nine and left about two dozen people missing, raising fears that more bodies would be found inside, authorities said on Saturday.

City and Alameda County officials said they expected the death toll to climb once the burned-out ruins of the two-story building were shored up and recovery teams were able to safely enter the structure.

The blaze started at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday in the city's Fruitvale district, a mostly Latino area that is also home to many artists living and working in converted lofts.

The cause of the blaze and exact number of casualties remained undetermined, said Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, who called it the worst single-structure fire she had seen in her career. 

Still, nine fatalities had been confirmed, and authorities were working to account for "a couple of dozen" other people and were "expecting the worst," Sergeant Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the county sheriff, told an afternoon news conference.

The remains of only one of the nine confirmed dead had been recovered as of Saturday because the warehouse was still too unstable to enter, said Deputy Fire Chief Mark Hoffmann.

He said about a dozen people survived the blaze, including one individual who went to a local hospital for treatment. The party was taking place on the second floor of the building, which had just two exits, at the time the blaze began, officials said.

The warehouse roof collapsed onto the second floor of the building during the fire, according to authorities, and portions of the second floor caved in on the first story.

Authorities said they did not suspect arson, but investigators want to find out if the building, which was partitioned into artists' studios, had a history of building code violations.

Flames rise from the top of a warehouse, which caught fire during a dance party in Oakland, California, U.S. December 3, 2016. 

FRANTIC SEARCH FOR INFORMATION

Authorities have said they did not know how many people were at the party or how many lived on the premises.

A Facebook event page showed 176 people planned to attend the party, which featured electronic music performances.

Golden Donna, Cherushii and Nackt were among the acts scheduled to perform as part of the Los Angeles-based 100% Silk label's West Coast tour, Variety reported.

Parents and others shared contact information on the page and asked anyone with information about the missing to call. "ANY information please!" wrote a woman looking for her son. 

At a sheriff’s station not far from the fire, about a dozen people were waiting on Saturday for updates from authorities.

“I don’t have high hopes,” said a woman who had four friends among the missing, declining to give her name. “We’ve just spent the night calling hospitals and listening to police scanners.”

The warehouse contained makeshift artist studios carved out with curtains and other partitions, the fire chief said. The interior was cluttered with "a flea market of items," she said. There was no evidence of any smoke detectors in the building.

The structure had only a single point of entry or exit from the second floor, where most of the dead were found, the chief said. A makeshift staircase appeared to be constructed from pallets.

"It's the worst case scenario we feared because it's an older warehouse," Doug, a man who only gave his first name, said as he waited for news of people who may have been inside.

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Comment by Bombahdrop on December 5, 2016 at 3:27pm
Hell on earth smfh so much for educated that they would trap themslves off like this.
Comment by Kurt Bollers on December 5, 2016 at 8:54am
I guess people don't value their lives. One look at that place says i shouldn't be in there.
Comment by Kyra-Lee Marie Wilson on December 4, 2016 at 1:53pm
Death Trap No Where To Escape Guess The Owner Cared More About Money Then Putting In A Fire Alarms Sprinkler System Or Anything Else To Keep People Safe
Comment by Alicia Johnson on December 4, 2016 at 1:56am
Rave=Xtc. That'll hinder anyone trying to escape a fire.

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PUMP IT! or DUMP IT! SAT & SUN NIGHT on Caribbean Fever 107.5 WBLS NY (GET YOUR NEW MUSIC PLAYED) SONG{S} BEING VOTED ON ARE {------ ) and {----- }

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