Operators of Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse arrested for manslaughter

A fire at the venue last December killed 36 people

Two operators at Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse venue have been arrested for manslaughter, following a fire at the venue last December.

The incident claimed 36 lives, after a rave at the converted warehouse succumbed to the blaze. Between 50 and 100 people were thought to have been inside the venue where Golden Donna and six other artists were due to perform. Oakland fire chief Teresa Deloche-Reed told reporters at the time that the building did not have a sprinkler system and no alarms were heard by firefighters upon their arrival.

Today, it was revealed that two operators of the venue, master tenant David Almena and creative director Max Harris, have been arrested and each charged with 36 counts of manslaughter.

CNN reports that the warehouse had not been inspected in three decades, while back in December the San Francisco Examiner reported that there was no record of a fire inspection ever taking place in the warehouse.

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According to reports which emerged at the time of the incident, the complex was packed with furniture, mannequins and other objects that obstructed the fire crew’s efforts in stopping the fire. “It was filled end to end with furniture, whatnot, collections. It was like a maze almost,” Deloche-Reed said, while the only exit from the venue’s second floor was a staircase made from wooden pallets.

Darin Ranelletti, a building and planning chief in Oakland, said the city had received complaints about unpermitted construction on the site of the Ghost Ship. He added that the city was aware of reports that people were living there, despite no permits for habitation being issued.