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‘Walls Were Moving:’ 30 Dead in Oakland Fire, More Expected

 

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Officials in Oakland, Calif., say the death toll has risen to 30 from a fire that ripped through a converted warehouse, reports the AP. Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly says crews are starting to get deeper into the building and that as they advance they expect to find more victims. “Firefighters are tired, exhausted. This is very emotional,” Kelly said earlier Sunday, per USA Today. Oakland Battalion Fire Chief Melinda Drayton says fire crews worked through the night to clear debris from the gutted building, a converted warehouse known as the “Ghost Ship.”

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Those who lived there or visited often say it was an artist workspace and illegal home for a rotating group of a dozen or more residents. Firefighters struggled to get to bodies in the charred rubble Saturday, and as of Sunday morning had only searched 20% of the building, which was so unstable another fire official said that “the walls were moving.” The fire started about 11:30pm Friday during an electronic dance music party. Officials believed 50 to 100 people may have been in attendance. On Sunday afternoon, authorities said DNA will be needed to identify bodies. Officials have asked families of those feared dead to preserve any DNA evidence they may have, including hair or tooth brushes.

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