As of Wednesday morning, the search for bodies from the deadly Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire had concluded, leaving a death toll of 36 decedents. The Cartwright Family would like to express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of loved ones who passed away in this tragic event.
As investigation into what caused this deadly fire is underway, there remains a lingering question. Who is responsible for this mass loss of life? Many are trying to place blame on someone, or something, but where do we look?
The fire ignited during an electric dance party, or “rave,” in which all guests were invited and presumably paid an entrance fee. That is, this was a monetized event which should be held to the same safety standards of any public venue. What is clear is that no one from the Ghost Ship Warehouse obtained a license or special permit to host a concert in the building. Cities of California require a special permit for this type of event, which would have required fire and building inspectors to be shown where the exits are, the locations of fire extinguishers, and how the building would be illuminated in case of an emergency.
We are currently working on a similar case that involves an out of town promoter who rented a large venue in San Francisco and invited thousands of guests, without providing adequate security, which resulted in a shooting. Until safety standards are stringently enforced at these underground parties, we will continue to see harmful tragedies, such as fights, fires, shootings, overdose deaths, and other problems, which could potentially have been prenvented.
It is clear that the Oakland warehouse was in a dangerous condition at the time of the accident. Yet, the broader picture, which must not be ignored, is that the deadly fire occurred during an unmontirored, underground party, at a venue that commonly hosted similar commercial events. Safety standards requiring adequate security, lighting, fire exits and sprinklers must be adhered to and enforced by the public entities responsible for public safety. Otherwise, we will continue to see these types of tragedies occuring at underground parties.
This was not the first “rave” to occur at the Oakland warehouse. In fact it was common for this venue to host similar parties, and obviously, the City of Oakland had to know that this property was used for illegal purposes including unlicensed concerts and illegal occupancy. So this begs the question, why wasn’t the premises properly inspected? Why did the City of Oakland permit the Ghost Ship to host concerts at its warehouse that was chock-full of safety hazards and building code violations?