Death toll rises in California warehouse fire

The number of people who lost their lives in the rave party fire in California has risen to 24, say fire fighters. Revellers had been enjoying a late-night dance party in an Oakland artists’ collective when the deadly blaze broke out.

However, firefighters have been painstakingly coming through the burned building and expect they will find more victims as many more people are still missing.

Battalion Chief Melina Dayton said fire crews now had the devastating task of removing debris from the warehouse “bucket by bucket”. She said her firefighters were working 24/7 in a “mindful, thoughtful and compassionate” way. Crews are doing their best to find any remaining victims sho their family and loved ones can be given answers, albeit not the ones they will want to hear.

Search continues

She added: “This will be a long and arduous process, but we want to make sure we are respecting the victims and their families and firefighter safety.” So far only around a fifth of the building has been searched and officials have only been able to identify three of the dead so they can notify their family.

Firefighters are expected to continue their search of the warehouse for at least two days. An inferno tore through the building on Friday, with fire crews saying they found it hard to get in because of the amount of clutter it contained.

The warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship, was a space for artists which was also an illegal dwelling, where around 12 people were understood to live. People who have previously lived there described it as a deathtrap with few exits, stairs made out of pallets, piles of wood lying around and a mess of electrical wiring.

The downstairs is understood to have held rooms which were rented out, while the upstairs was used as a party space and held around 100 people.