San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO appears to be the first news outlet to have tracked down the founder/proprietor of the Oakland artists' collective and live-work space known as Ghost Ship, or the Satya Yuga collective, Derick Ion Almena. The station was apparently tipped off that Almena and his wife, Micah Allison, and possibly their three children, are staying at the Marriott in downtown Oakland, and confronted them as they tried to leave the hotel at 10:45 p.m. Sunday. Not expecting to see cameras, the pair turned around and attempted to return to their room, but reporter Lilian Kim managed to get a comment from Almena on the loss of life which up until now he had not apparently done in public or on social media.
She asked him what he had to say to the 33 families (now 36 and counting) who lost loved ones in the devastating blaze on Friday.
Pausing before speaking, he turned to the camera and said, "They're my children. They're my friends, they're my family, they're my loves, they're my future. What else do I have to say?"
Earlier rumors on social media on Saturday suggested that Almena may have tried to flee the country, but those appear to have been false.
Almena has been excoriated on the internet following a post he wrote on his Facebook page at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, two hours into the devastating blaze, in which he apparently ignored the possibility of loss of life, and simply wrote about his devastation at the loss of "everything I have worked so hard for," and he expressed gratitude that his wife and children were safe.
ABC 7 says that Almena and Allison had checked into the hotel under an assumed name.
As we reported earlier, the Oakland Police Department has launched a criminal investigation into the fire and its potential causes.