Less than 36 hours after a fire claimed the lives of at least 24 people at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Fruitvale in Oakland, California, three major fundraisers have accumulated over $250,000 with at least $95,000 still needed to help victims recover and lay others to rest.
Described as one of the worst fires in California since October 20, 1991, when 25 people died in the Oakland Hills fire in neighboring Berkeley, LA Times reported on December 4 that the December 3 Ghost Ship Oakland fire has claimed at least 24 lives.
Initially, the number of deaths at the Ghost Ship Oakland fire were estimated at 9 with up to 25 still missing, according to USA Today. As funds are currently being organized, the estimated amount required may not be known because the death toll related to the Ghost Ship Oakland fire is still rising, and is feared to be as high as 40.
According to a December 4 update from the Oakland Police Department, the death toll at Ghost Ship after the Oakland fire may rise over the next days because 80 percent of the 4,000 square-foot warehouse still needs to be cleared.
Raising money for the Ghost Ship victims and survivors of the Oakland fire began with a verified Twitter account for Gray Area Foundation. The Oakland Police Department also linked to the You Caring page organized by the Gray Area Foundation in their press release from December 4.
The Gray Area Foundation set up the Ghost Ship You Caring fundraising page at 2:08 p.m. EST on December 3, and they tweeted, “We have set up a Fire Relief Fund for Oakland Fire Victims. At least 9 dead and dozens missing. Please share and donate.”
For the Gray Area Foundation initiative, around midnight EST on December 3, almost $84,000 had been raised. Twelve hours later, on December 4, that number was raised to almost $125,000.
Unfortunately, a Go Fund Me page to support former residents that survived the Ghost Ship Oakland fire is only at $6,400 of its $100,000 goal as of December 4.
In addition to the Gray Area Foundation’s You Caring page and a specific page for helping victims find new housing, local sports teams in the Bay Area are matching donations from fans.
For example, KTVU reports that the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders pledged to match $60,000 for a total of $120,000 donated.
Matching funds on the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders’ You Caring page was at $52,000 as of 3 p.m. EST on December 4. Their goal is $60,000 total, and that means $120,000 will be given to the survivors and victims of the Ghost Ship Oakland fire.
Outside of the $120,000, Golden State Warriors tweeted that they donated $50,000 because of the Ghost Ship Oakland fire, and gave this money directly to Unity Council in Fruitvale.
It is also being reported that the San Francisco Giants will be supporting the fund started by the Oakland A’s, but no further details have been released at this time.
Although some in the Bay Area community are extremely supportive of people they likely never knew that spent time at Ghost Ship, the media has not been so kind about the Oakland fire.
For example, ABC News Australia‘s coverage of the Oakland Fire at Ghost Ship stated in the headlines that it was an illegal residence of Bohemians.
SF Gate also painted a scathing picture of the situation before the Oakland Fire at Ghost Ship.
However, Jackie Ward of CBS SF did an interview with a neighbor of the warehouse that said the Oakland Fire was a tragedy because the people at Ghost Ship cared about the neighborhood and that no one [in the media] is “talking about those good things” at all.
— Jackie Ward (@jackie_ward) December 3, 2016
The same neighbor said the media was “blowing it up bigger than it really is” about the living conditions at the Ghost Ship warehouse where the Oakland fire took place.
The neighbor of the Ghost Ship warehouse went on to say that the people that died in the Oakland fire were the kind of people that did good things for other people, gave homeless people a place to live, and gave away food for free.
Consequence of Sound described the Oakland fire as a tragedy because Ghost Ship was considered a home to a family of three children (all of whom survived) as well as an informal cultural center for the arts.
Ghost Ship’s Tumblr account supports this, and photos posted before the Oakland fire shows an organized space decorated with artistic paraphernalia.
Adding to this, the fact people may have been living at the Ghost Ship warehouse is not uncommon in the area since it is now common knowledge that the housing price crisis in the Bay Area where the Oakland Fire took place has driven workers further away from the city center.
This means individuals or families are sometimes forced into sub-par housing due to outrageous rent prices that have dramatically grown in the past ten years, according to Business Insider.
Supporting the idea that the media coverage of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland was needlessly negative, on December 3 Alex Steffen posted the following on Twitter.
“Sorry but I’m outraged. Bay Area pundits, before judging the mote of warehouse squats, cast the… anti-housing beam from thine own eye.”
Memorials and other events related to the memory of Oakland fire victims of Ghost Ship are currently being organized. Although at least three victims have been identified by authorities, their identities have not yet been released to the public.
[Featured Image by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images]