Memorial wall reflects creative spirit of Oakland warehouse fire victims

- Under grey skies Wednesday evening, raindrops began falling like tears covering the growing memorial of flowers, photos, and handwritten messages honoring the 36 victims of the Oakland "Ghost Ship" warehouse fire.

Mourners stood along the perimeter of the fire scene. Many people have filled the fence lines with artwork, poetry, and paintings, reflecting the creative spirit of the artists, musicians and members of the LGBTQ community who were inside the warehouse for an electronic music gathering Friday night at 1315 31st Avenue in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood

"It's still hard to take it all in," said musician Rocker T, "I've performed at this place. Some of the people who passed away here are people that I know."

He came with his guitar to play a song for the friends he lost. The music and words, he said, were created from the pain and sorrow of the past few days.

"Hope your souls are flying...this place was like a temple. now it's gone," he sang, "We pray for those who are left behind."

The memorial sites surrounding the fire scene have given friends, family, and members of the community a place to grieve.

George Muedeking, a longtime Oakland resident stopped to remember Donna Kellogg, who he said often came by his workplace at Piedmont Springs.

"She was a beautiful soul," Muedeking said, "Every time she came in she had a smile on her face, so those are the kind of people that we lost."

Others didn't know the victims personally, but wanted to show that Oakland and the larger community cares.

"We just wanted to show some support for our neighbors. Oakland is a really tight knit community and it's the least we could do," said Morgan Flores who works for the Harborside company down the street.

"I'm a parent and my sons, I have two sons who are 25 and 26 so they're the age of many of them were that were lost," said Joseph Stegner a former paramedic who became an artist in San Leandro.

Alex Angulo knew some of the victims and lives in the neighborhood. She had words of support for the victims' families.

"We're just all trying to stick together and pray and just hope that something like this never happens again. Because...it's devastating," Angulo said.

Many people said they hope this tragedy prompts a response from the larger community to find safe spaces for artists and those who may be marginalized in society.

"I think this is another example of the preciousness of life, and the necessity for us to really look beyond superficial differences and come together and be in a oneness, be in a oneness right now," said Ashel Eldridge, an Oakland musician.

One handwritten note paid tribute to the lives lost with the words, "Every artist creates a new world that has never been seen before. Here we lost many irreplaceable worlds. An entire galaxy."

Officials with the City of Oakland say they are developing a plan for how to handle the many pesronal tributes that have been left at the scene.

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