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New developments in CA’s deadly Ghost Ship fire

Posted by / December 16, 2018

In 2016, an Oakland warehouse, artists’ commune, and sometimes music venue caught fire during a concert, killing thirty-six people. Most of the victims were there to see the concert and found themselves trapped within the maze of makeshift walls, jury-rigged stairs, and hidden exits. The absentee landlord allegedly knew of the warehouse’s faulty-wiring and fire hazards. The Oakland fire department knew of it. But the only charges made were against the founder of the Ghost Ship artistic commune, Derick Ion Almena, and his so-called right-hand, Max Harris.

A recent New York Times feature tells a different story, casting Max Harris as guilty only of naiveté and Almena as a manipulative autocrat. It does not do much to explore the role of the landlord’s negligence––perhaps criminal negligence––in the blaze.

According to the East Bay Times, however the “attorneys for the Ghost Ship defendants are asking the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for an unusual move — to arrest the warehouse landlords and fire department officials for the deadly fire.” Those fire officials include  “Capt. George Freelen, who testified in the case’s preliminary hearing last year that there was a high fire load at the warehouse when he and others entered inside. He testified he filed a report questioning the use of the warehouse, but the report was never found.”

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