In December 2016, the electronic music community, alongside the San Francisco Bay Area community as a whole was shaken when the deadly Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse caught fire and 36 lives were lost. The repercussions within the community as a result have been vast. Today, a step towards justice has been taken.
Derick Almena, the master tenant of the warehouse, and warehouse tenant/”creative director” Max Harris were arrested today on the charge of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Left: Almena; Right: Harris (Lake County Sheriff’s Office/CBS)In an announcement, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said: “Defendants Almena and Harris knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape, filled it with human beings, and are now facing the consequences of their deadly actions.” Almena and Harris had been allowing up to 25 people live in the space illegally, which did not include any fire prevention equipment and was outright dangerous for any individual in the case of an emergency.
The Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, also released a statement after O’Malley’s announcement was published. She applauded the charges against Alemna and Harris, as she believes that “you won’t get away with making a profit by cramming people into dangerous spaces or failing to maintain safe living conditions.”
The cause of the fire, according to Assistant Dist. Atty. Teresa Drenick, will still likely remain undetermined due to the fact that most evidence that could lead to the cause was lost in the fire.