Video shows conditions inside Ghost Ship warehouse before fatal Oakland fire: 2 Investigates

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- Video taken by a former tenant of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse shows conditions inside the artists’ collective and serious safety risks, including propane tanks, frayed wiring, and RVs where people were living.

Shelley Mack says she rented an RV at the warehouse two years ago as an artist paying $565 a month in rent to manager Derick Ion.

Video she took with her cell phone shows propane tanks in a bathroom used to heat shower water. In photos you can also see a hairdryer plugged into an extension cord strung through the bathroom door, and sitting on the wet floor.

Photos taken by another person who spent time at Ghost Ship, but did not want to be identified, also show similar conditions. The images depict clutter, hot plates, a welding machine, and a fuse box that Mack says was “always jacked and arcing.”

“Nothing was up to code. Everything was illegal,” said Mack.

Mack says she sent a letter to manager Derick Ion demanding a safer place to live. She wrote that “junk” everywhere was a “fire hazard” and suggested that Ion come up with “an escape plan for fire.”

Yet Mack says Ion did not respond to her complaints. She also believes that city inspectors and police also did not respond to complaints appropriately either. Mack says she called the police regarding other issues, but was surprised that officers did not take any action over the conditions inside.

Mack also says that during the four months she was living at the warehouse she witnessed at least three fires break out inside, but tenants themselves put them out because they were worried about calling 911.

Inspectors also visited the Ghost Ship location last month, but according to logs released by the city, the inspector could not gain access to the property because a locked chain link fence prevented them from getting in.

2 Investigates uncovered documents showing how the City of Oakland was told at least ten times about various code problems at the property over the years. Two of those complaints leads to investigations last month, which are still open. In one of those cases, inspectors did not schedule a follow up visit.

Mack believes that is unacceptable.  “It doesn’t go away because the gate is locked,” she said.

“I think that every person that came out there and didn't do anything is guilty. Every police officer, every housing inspector. "Maybe if they had listened before it wouldn't have cost these lives."

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