At approximately 11:30 local time on Friday, a fire broke out at a dance party of at least 100 people in Oakland, CA. The event, promoted on a Facebook page as the "Golden Donna 100% Silk 2016 West Coast Tour," centered around a performance by a DJ called Golden Donna, as well as six other musical acts. It was held on the second floor of a building used for both artists' studios and storage. As of the latest reporting, at least 9 have been confirmed as dead, but the fate of dozens remains uncertain.
According to Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Graves, the death toll could be as high as 40.
There were several factors that made the situation even more perilous, namely the fact that the two-story structure had only one way to escape the second floor: a makeshift stairway. The building was also not equipped with a fire sprinkler system and when firefighters arrived, they heard no alarms.
Per the interim director of Oakland's Planning and Building Department, Darin Ranelletti, the building was only permitted to be used as a warehouse, not for residency, and no special permit had been issued for events. Ranelletti also stated the building had been recently under investigation for illegal internal construction. On November 17, an inspector had attempted to enter what has been called a "24-hour artist collective." NBC also reported that a "housing habitability complaint" was lodged last month for the trash piling in front.
Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly stated that the building has been exceptionally difficult for emergency responders to work due to the wreckage and debris; it has been estimated that crews will continue to work for the next 48 hours. "We have water that's still coming down on top of our people," he said. "There's beams, there's all sorts of wreckage and debris that we have to maneuver through."
Due to immense damage, including a partialled collapsed roof, crews will have to shore up the walls to make sure the building is safe enough for them continue their search. "Right now, there's limited access to the structure," Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed said. "It's too unsafe. And not only that, there's a lot of heavy wood from when the roof caved in that's going to have to be removed."
Hospitals have reported minimal injuries. “It appears that either you got out or you got trapped inside,” said Kelly. "We are prepared for a mass casualty event. We don’t exactly know how many.”