Oakland Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire Lawsuits Filed, Documents Call Building A ‘Death Trap’ [Video]

The Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, California caught fire earlier this month, and the results were tragic and devastating. Thirty-six people lost their lives in the blaze, which took place during a crowded party, and now the parents of two of the victims are fighting back. Civil lawsuits have now been filed in connection to the Ghost Ship warehouse fire, and in the filing documents, plaintiffs allege that there were a lot of people who knew about the dangers posed by the old building. People who should have done something to shut down the warehouse.

As CNN reports, the Ghost Ship was much more than just a simple warehouse. It was a well-known “live-work” warehouse: part commune, part artists collective. Dozens of local artists reportedly lived in the facility, and even more people knew of the arrangement.

On November 13, just weeks before the deadly fire, the Ghost Ship in Oakland was the subject of a “blight complaint,” as well as a complaint regarding an “unauthorized interior structure.” An Oakland inspector reportedly checked out the warehouse and “confirmed” the blight complaint. However, that inspector was unable to get inside to check out the interior. On December 2, the Ghost Ship (so named because of the interior space with a ceiling resembling a ship’s hull) was gutted by fire, taking 36 souls with it as it burned.

According to local artist Chris Dunn, the place was full of art supplies (big and small) and people. Dunn claimed to have last been inside the Ghost Ship warehouse in 2015.

“It was a beautiful space that allowed artistic gatherings to happen. There’s not enough spaces for this kind of artistic expression of music and gathering.”

While “a slew” of people are believed to have known that the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse wasn’t up to code and potentially posed a significant danger to those living/working there, few were willing to report the problem due to costs. Such dual-use work/living spaces are reportedly becoming increasingly common in cities across the country, and reporting code violations often leave tenants subject to rent increases that they simply can’t afford.

“To have that type of living space totally aboveboard, [landlords and tenants] would be completely priced out. There is a fear if someone blows the whistle on a safety issue that it’s going to lead to them being evicted, because there’s so much money tied up in real estate.”

Family members of two of the fire victims are beyond wanting to hear excuses why the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse wasn’t addressed by the city prior to the devastating December fire. As CNN reports, the families of fire victims Griffin Madden and Michela Gregory have filed civil suits against virtually everyone who knew or conceivably could have known that the Ghost Ship was little more than a time bomb of a “death trap.”

“We have filed this lawsuit against the owners of the building,… against those who were involved with the event, the promoters and the person who was putting on the show. And we have also filed against the person who was like the manager.”

According to the families, both victims suffered greatly before their tragic deaths at the Ghost Ship warehouse. During the fire, attendees of the party going on at the time reportedly jumped from warehouse windows in an attempt to escape with their lives. Madden and Gregory were among the dozens who didn’t make it.

According to their families, the duo had tried desperately to escape the building but were unable to. As such, they were both aware that they were “likely going to perish.” Neither of the victims named in the wide-reaching Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire lawsuits died instantly. They were both terrified until being overwhelmed by the smoke and fire until they died.

“[The were] injured and suffered from the injuries caused by the fire and smoke for many minutes before dying.”

According to the multiple lawsuits filed against a wide array of individuals connected to the Ghost Ship warehouse, Michela died in her the arms of her long-time boyfriend, Alex Vega, who had apparently been trying to protect her until the end. Madden’s remains were also found in the burnt out Ghost Ship after the devastating fire.

According to attorney Mary Alexander of San Francisco, who is representing the victims’ families in their plethora of lawsuits, the victims died due to the gross negligence of a network of people. People including the owner of the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, an array of Oakland city and county employees, and even members of the Oakland Fire Department who had reportedly gone to a music event at the Ghost Ship not long before the early December fire.

“As a result of the horrific, gross negligence of the defendants in this case, these two young people have lost their lives.”

The Ghost Ship warehouse is owned by Chor Nar Siu Ng and the landlords at the time of the deadly fire were Derick Almena and Micah Allison. All are named as defendants in the lawsuits. In addition, a musician, a music label and two landlords of local properties who allegedly “provided utilities and services to the Ghost Ship, including a supply of electricity from their premises and a restroom on their premises for use by patrons and invitees during music and other events” are also named.

For his part, landlord Derick Almena has publicly apologized for any role he may have played in the December 2 horror.

“I’m only here to say one thing: that I am incredibly sorry.”

So far, no criminal charges have been filed in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people and displaced dozens more. However, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is leaving that option open pending the outcome of the investigation into the tragedy.

[Featured Image by KGO-TV/File/AP Images]