Fire crews were forced to suspend the search for victims of Friday night's deadly fire at an Oakland artists collective known as Ghost Ship Monday morning, citing dangerous conditions that must be mitigated before the recovery effort resumes.
In a press conference Monday morning, officials said that three more bodies had been recovered overnight, bringing the count of those confirmed dead from 33 to 36. And that number is expected to rise, Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed told Good Morning America Monday.
“The unfortunate reality of this somber Monday morning is that we’re anticipating additional bodies being recovered within the structure," Reed said.
"We’re at approximately 70 percent of coverage in terms of the area that we’re able to search, and the 30 percent that’s left is 12 to 15 feet high with debris.”
Though the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, officials say that they have found what the believe to be the origin point of the blaze, "on the first floor in the back of the building just below the dance floor," KRON 4 reports, saying that "the fire was so hot that it mangled and twisted the steel beams in the building."
“We absolutely believe the number of fatalities will increase,” Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton of the Oakland Fire Department said at this morning's press briefing. So far, 11 people have been identified. ABC 7 reports that officials will "release some names of victims later this afternoon but want to give family members time to reach out to other relatives before they release the names to reporters."
Drayton said Monday that "work on recovering more bodies was stopped just after midnight due to a 'wobbly' wall that was leaning inward and making the situation too dangerous for firefighters to continue," the Chron reports.
“For us as firefighters, to work under a wobbly, potentially collapsing exterior wall is extremely dangerous,” Drayton said. “We will not put our firefighters in danger at this point, and we will not put Alameda County Sheriff in that precarious situation with us.”
CBS 5 reports that Monday morning, work crews will shore up the outside walls of the building, and the search should resume by 2 this afternoon.
In a statement Monday morning, President Obama said that "“While we still don’t know the full toll of this disaster, we do know that an American community has been devastated."
“Oakland is one of the most diverse and creative cities in our country,” his statement read. And as families and residents pull together in the wake of this awful tragedy, they will have the unwavering support of the American people.”
Obama statement on the Oakland fire pic.twitter.com/dPHPUvK4Y7— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) December 5, 2016