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Ghost Ship (Oakland)

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    Ghost Ship (Oakland)

    The tragic fire at an underground art work space in Oakland has cost 36 lives and counting.

    I have been to plenty of parties in my time, ranging from dubious to clearly dodgy spaces. None resulted in a tragic incident; all were amazingly inclusive and led me to make friends or just brief acquaintance of people I would never expect to meet in any other course of my life. These places are amazing at creating refuge for the isolated, persecuted and hopeful and never seemed to have an ounce of hate at them.

    I had been fighting a mix of emotions about the Ghost Ship - how I could easily have been at a similar incident, how unknowing people simply looking for a safe space to enjoy themselves could find themselves unknowingly in such tragedy. Friends had promoted the artists at the event in Europe a few years ago and this is how it abruptly ends.

    Then, by reading, I learned a friend had lost their sister in the fire. I am at a loss. So - Feral Pines - I never met you but am shaken by your loss. And all of those who lost their lives - I am at a loss to describe how sad I am that a night of freedom, joy, dancing and friendship should end like this. May you all rest in peace and the marginalized continue to make sure they seek a way to acceptance.

    #2
    Ghost Ship (Oakland)

    Thanks for sharing that dglh. Sorry for your friend's loss and for all the others who lost people in this tragedy.

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      #3
      Ghost Ship (Oakland)

      The bloke who ran the place didn't exactly cover himself in glory with his first proclamation after the fire and his later apparent contrition and apology possibly just cover up ongoing negligent behaviour, particularly when inspectors had recently (Nov. 17th) seemingly been denied access to the place. If they had been able to get in, this is what they would have seen. However, it's not like it wasn't known to the local authorities.

      It seems like a litany of negligence all-round and it's horrible that your friend has been lost to what was an avoidable tragedy, DGLH.

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        #4
        Ghost Ship (Oakland)

        That douchebag's going to jail. There's bad character references about him flying around everywhere in the Bay Area (meth addict, thief, hustler, CPS got involved with his kids due to the first three) and enough evidence that he was willfully negligent (lots of claims that he solicited money from tenants for repairs, then ????) that he's going to be the deserved sacrificial lamb for a lot of this. The unbelievably tone deaf Facebook posts and woe is me interviews are just adding fuel to the fire, pun not intended.

        At least two people who died were friends of friends and Cash Askew was pretty well known in alternative circles in the Bay Area, so this is bordering but not quite on the personal. Which is useful as I've seen people try to blame the housing crisis on this, or that we should be understanding, yada yada yada. We kinda were, given how Oakland couldn't or wouldn't (a legitimate question, given how bare-bones the city government is due to cuts) enforce fire safety laws. And this is what happened, the worst loss of life in California from a structural fire since the 1906 earthquake (!). There are examples of artists living in warehouses where they've done enough DIY work to get fire alarms and sprinklers in there, and either one of those things would have saved a lot of lives. If you can't afford those, then tough.

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          #5
          Ghost Ship (Oakland)

          We usually spend a week or two with our in-laws in Oakland every year, and have come to see it as a kind of second home (as they have with NYC), so this has been difficult (our nephew has been to similar spaces, and three Cal students died).

          Oakland is a vibrant, diverse, and beautiful place, but it has long been extremely dysfunctional politically. The city recently went through three police chiefs in eight days (and is on its seventh in the last seven years), and the Ghost Ship tragedy has made manifest staffing issues in the Fire Department that have put many people's lives at risk.

          Two years before the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire, the Alameda County civil grand jury sounded the alarm about deficiencies in the Oakland Fire Department’s inspection bureau — saying the city wasn’t even trying to check a third of the 12,000 commercial properties that were supposed to be examined every year.

          Despite assurances from Fire Department brass that they would address the problem, the city continues to have fewer inspectors on the streets than its website reports, interviews and public records indicate — leaving most buildings to be checked by rank-and-file firefighters on a catch-as-catch-can basis.


          It's too late for the three dozen people who died at the Ghost Ship, but the city, county and state owe it to their memory (and to their current citizens) to take their fundamental safety responsibilities more seriously.

          Comment


            #6
            Ghost Ship (Oakland)

            Gosh, I'd forgotten about the police mess in Oakland. I went to high school with Brendan O'Brien (aka BOB) and BOB grew up in my neighborhood. I didn't keep in touch with him other than the occasional run-in but I remember when he committed suicide and how weird it was that *his wife* had committed suicide (which, when combined with the Celeste Guap mess is now believed by precisely nobody) the year before.

            His parents also bank with my mom, who knows them pretty well, and they're essentially despondent over all of this.

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              #7
              Ghost Ship (Oakland)

              Dangerous or not, I can certainly see the artistic appeal of the place in those photos. I wasn't prepared for the ages of the victims, though.

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                #8
                Ghost Ship (Oakland)

                You thought they would be younger on average?

                The artistic community in Oakland skews older than what one might expect, in part because it has often taken them some time to get to Oakland after having lived in other places.

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                  #9
                  Ghost Ship (Oakland)

                  No...for some reason I imagined them older. Older than me. I mean, when I hear "communal Persian bazaar warehouse live/work space", I imagined old hippies. They were kids.

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                    #10
                    Ghost Ship (Oakland)

                    We must live in very different worlds.

                    Apart from the 17 year old, they were all in their 20s and 30s, which is pretty much what I would expect.

                    Older hippies would be living in the woods in Humboldt County, not in a warehouse in Fruitvale.

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                      #11
                      Ghost Ship (Oakland)

                      Makes sense when you think about it.

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                        #12
                        Ghost Ship (Oakland)

                        This is awful. Populist politicians complaining about business unfriendly regulations really madden me. They just don't get it. Or worse, they do, but they don't care.

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                          #13
                          Ghost Ship (Oakland)

                          It was an unfortunate freak accident. By and large, local/municipal authorities are far too strict in terms of fire regulations in SF, Berkeley or Oakland. I've known of many, many other such spaces that were relatively safe that got constantly harassed and shut down by the authorities. West Oakland was a bit of a last urban frontier in the inner Bay, and is a bit more run down, having only started getting colonized by hipsters in the last wave of gentrification, it's still a pretty rough neighborhood though.

                          ursus arctos wrote: We must live in very different worlds.

                          Apart from the 17 year old, they were all in their 20s and 30s, which is pretty much what I would expect.

                          Older hippies would be living in the woods in Humboldt County, not in a warehouse in Fruitvale.
                          There are plenty of older hippies in the east bay, often living fairly well off from remortgaging their overpriced homes bought last century.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            The criminal trial is producing some weird testimony

                            Eventually, in cross-examination by Almena’s attorney Tony Serra, Evans was allowed to say one statement of what the men said to each other: “No one is going to make it out of the building alive,” she said.

                            This was because the prosecution had introduced a statement she had given to an investigator in April 2017 regarding a separate civil case. With this, Serra was able to ask about that interview, where she told the investigator about what the men had said. When asked by Serra if the men talked about setting the fire, she said “yes.”

                            From the defense’s opening statements last month, attorneys said Evans allegedly heard the men say, “The way we put the wood there, they’re never getting out.”

                            This was significant for the defense, as it could support its claim that the fire was arson, and put reasonable doubt into the minds of the 12 jurors.

                            Evans said in testimony that she did not immediately go to police with the information because she was afraid of retaliation from the group of men.

                            Harris’ attorneys also called witness Michael Russell, who was living at the Ghost Ship warehouse the night of the fire. Russell, who previously testified at a preliminary hearing in December 2017, said he witnessed a woman screaming when he was making his escape out of the warehouse that night.

                            “She was frantically screaming: ‘This is the will of the spirits of the forest. Don’t come downstairs,’ ” Russell said Monday.

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