President Barack Obama issued a statement this morning on the warehouse fire that claimed at least three dozen lives in Oakland on Friday night. The building known as the “Ghost Ship” at 1305 31st Ave. caught fire around 11:30 p.m. Friday during a party and trapped many people inside. Crews have worked since then to recover bodies from the wreckage and Oakland fire officials said this morning the death toll stands at 36 but is expected to rise since only about 70 percent of the building has been searched.
“While we still don’t know the full toll of this disaster, we do know that an American community has been devastated, and many people — including young men and women with their whole futures ahead of them — have tragically lost their lives,” Obama said. “I want to thank the dedicated first responders who have been working tirelessly for days to contain the situation, recover victims, and treat the wounded,” he said.
“My administration is in close contact with our state and local partners on the ground to make sure that authorities have everything they need as they continue response operations and investigate the cause of the fire,” Obama said. “Oakland is one of the most diverse and creative cities in our country, and as families and residents pull together in the wake of this awful tragedy, they will have the unwavering support of the American people,” he said.
Authorities have identified 11 of the 36 people found so far. Search operations stopped early this morning because of structural concerns at the building, including a portion of the exterior wall that is in danger of collapse. Federal investigators believe the area of origin of the fire is in the back center of the building.
The suspected area of origin was quarantined off Sunday night for additional investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. On Sunday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has begun a criminal investigation into the tragic fire.
Meanwhile, donations have poured in to help the fire’s victims and their families. Local sports teams, including the Oakland Raiders, Oakland Athletics and Golden State Warriors, have donated tens of thousands of dollars.
A fund on the crowdfunding website YouCaring has collected more than $232,000 as of this morning. More information on the fund can be found at https://www.youcaring.com/firevictimsofoaklandfiredec232016-706684.
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