Officials: Cause of Ghost Ship warehouse fire undetermined

- The official cause of Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse fire, in which 36 people died, has been ruled undetermined, according to a report released Monday by the city.

A 50-page report by the Oakland Fire Department on the origin and cause of the December 2, 2016 fire has found there is “no conclusive determination of the initial heat source” or the first materials that were ignited.

The report concludes the fire started in the northwest area of the warehouse on the ground floor. It contains new photographs of the inside of the Ghost Ship warehouse that were taken by investigators. It shows how some areas were more heavily damaged than others.

According to the report, a review of the warehouse’s electrical service found there were electrical outlets inside, but an occupant stated they were not operational and they did not know the outlets existed before the fire. Tenants said they used power strips to supply lamps and appliance, but due to how crowded it was inside, they did not know where the power supplies originated.

The report reveals the main electrical subpanel for the warehouse was located next door in an auto shop. Engineers found two-2 police amp circuit breakers in the “tripped or center position” after the fire. There was writing inside the panel door that said “Satya Yuga Main” and Satya Yuga Upstairs,” according to the report, which is what the artist collective was known as.

Each of the floors was served by an additional subpanel inside the warehouse. Both systems were heavily damaged in the fire debris and were part of a makeshift system that supplied areas of the building with electricity.

When investigating potential heat sources, the report states: “Due to the nature of the electrical supply within the building, both fixed and temporary, a fault or failure of the electrical system cannot be eliminated.” But officially, the fire remains “undetermined.”

The report was completed in March, but it was only posted publicly online on Monday. It also includes details from the autopsy reports of each of the 36 victims, all of which died from smoke inhalation.

The manager of the Ghost Ship warehouse, Derek Almena, and the creative director, Max Harris, are each facing 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths.

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