Cause of Deadly Oakland Blaze Still Unknown

Investigators still don’t know what caused the Ghost Ship fire that left 36 people dead but electricals are suspected.
December 13, 2016, 7:25pm
Photo of Ghost Ship warehouse courtesy of website

The cause of a deadly blaze that killed 36 people in the live/work space the Ghost Ship has still not been determined, investigators announced today.

Speaking at a press conference, Jill Snyder from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said the agency had finalized its investigation into the warehouse fire, but had not found its cause.

"No final determination has been made into the cause of the fire," Snyder said.

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Snyder went on to say that while the bureau's investigation has now wrapped up, the Oakland fire department is still working to find the cause. Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed reiterated this, stating: "The determination of origin has not been determined yet, and this investigation is still ongoing."

Last week, ATF investigators ruled out arson as the cause of the worst fire in Oakland's history. The theory then turned to electricals being the cause; initially a refrigerator was suspected as having started the inferno, but this has also now been ruled out.

At today's press conference Snyder said that "the electrical system is part of the analysis" in the ongoing investigation.

Oakland's fire department is now under intense scrutiny for its handling of fire safety inspections. The East Bay Times reported last week that the Ghost Ship was not on any inspection lists and had never undergone a safety inspection.

"They never inspected it. It's not on the inspection rolls," an anonymous city employee told the paper.

The aftermath of the tragedy spells an uncertain future for Oakland's artists and the surviving residents of the Ghost Ship, who fear they will face homelessness as the city cracks down on DIY spaces. In the wake of the fire, city officials across the US have raided and shut down similar live/work art spaces.