With approximately 15 percent of the burned-out structure left to search, Oakland officials say the official number of the dead remains at 36, and as of Monday the coroner believed all the victims but one could be matched to the list of those missing. The names of 10 more victims who had been positively identified were released late Monday, and the East Bay Times reports that authorities still have a list of 50 names down from an initial 220 of individuals considered by friends or family to be unaccounted for, though they may not have been at the warehouse party Friday night.
And in a just-released statement to reporters, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office is now saying that a refrigerator in the rear of the Ghost Ship space may have been the culprit in causing the fire, according to evidence found at the scene. We should have more details on this later.
#BREAKING : @ACSOSheriffs : source of fire may have been refrigerator, per evidence at scene @ktvu #oaklandfire pic.twitter.com/JEaNsX9VIU— Allie Rasmus KTVU (@arasmusKTVU) December 6, 2016
Sensational stories continue to circulate online, particular in places like the UK Daily Mail, about the squalor and lack of safety precautions in the artists' collective, and proprietor Derick Ion Almena has been having to answer for all of that on the national news, though his excuse so far seems to be that it was just about idealism and a lack of money. Also, the Daily Mail would like you to know that the space was host to a sex party at least once, and Almena liked Hindu imagery, therefore: heathens.
Former tenant Shelly Mack has been one of the most vocal in the press to criticize Almena, sending photos of the filthy space to the Daily Mail, and telling the East Bay Times about how the back staircase that has been mentioned, behind the stage area on the second floor, was typically closed off to traffic because it was used as a conduit for various electrical cables.
But in the truly tragic, human side of this story, more details have emerged that suggest that those trapped inside the building were well aware of their fate, and did not necessarily die quickly.
KRON 4, the East Bay Times and others have reported on a text message received by one mother from her daughter who was lost in the fire. It read, "I love you. I’m going to die, Mom." There are reports of other messages saying "I love you" from other victims, and Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly says that they found multiple victims "protecting each other, holding each other," in various pairs and groups.
The latest released names of the victims identified are as follows: Em Bohlka, 33, of Oakland; Micah Danemayer, 28, of Oakland; Chelsea Dolan, 33, of San Francisco; Feral Pines, 29, of Berkeley; Alex Ghassan, 35, of Oakland; Michela Gregory, 20, of South San Francisco; Edmund Lapine, 34, of Oakland; Jennifer Morris, 21, of Foster City; Benjamin Runnels, 32, of Oakland; and Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, of Oakland. 15 more victims have been tentatively identified, as the East Bay Times reports.
Officials will be holding another news conference at 2 p.m. PT, which you can watch live here. It is unclear if that will bring any updates to the death toll, or more information about the investigation into the cause of the fire.
Update: The purpose of the news conference was to discuss the next phase of the Oakland Fire Department's search operation, which they say is 90 percent complete. Department Operations Chief Mark Hoffman says that the next phase is going to be the demolition and removal of several large parapets, below which he says there are no bodies. "I don't want to see any helicopters or any photographs of the operation suggesting that we letting this debris fall on top of bodies." He clarified that the area below which the parapets are being removed has been thorough searched, and no evidence remains to be gathered there with regard to the investigation into the fire's cause.
He said he hopes that no more bodies remain in the 10 percent of the building that remains to be searched, but in order to make the site safe for further searching, this demolition must first occur.
Previously: Video: Oakland Warehouse Manager Derick Almena Confronted On 'Today' Show, Could Face Murder Charges