ATF: Refrigerator ruled out as cause of Oakland warehouse fire

OAKLAND (BCN and KTVU) - The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms brought in what they call a forensics mapping team to the Ghost Ship warehouse on Friday.

A forensics mapping team creates lasting digital evidence from rapidly deteriorating physical material. The ATF says it will take three days to make the diagrams available to investigators.

"The forensic mapping team has several different camera systems that allow them to thoroughly document the scene. They will also prepare a diagram using forensic mapping equipment," says Jill Snyder, an ATF Special Agent. Beyond this, the ATF Agent seemed to not know precisely what's being done by this team and did not produce a team member to explain it or provide an example of such an image.

On a more concrete note, the ATF's electrical engineers have concluded that although the refrigerator was close to the source of the fire, the refrigerator itself was not the source.

Earlier in the day Contra Costa County's Fire Marshal came to the site. "Every time they happen, we have to know what happened so we can either change the codes or reinforce the codes that we already have, to make sure it doesn't happen again,” said Robert Marshall, Contra Costa Fire Marshal. But, in this case, "A lot of the codes that exist could cover a lot of the things that could have prevented this kind of a situation," he said.

It appears building code inspection and enforcement, not fire inspection, is likely the real issue. "A warehouse like down here or my jurisdiction, those are not mandated inspections. Nobody requires that we do them. Nobody checks that we do them. They're available for us to do them if we want to, but, other than that, that is not a mandated inspection," said Marshall.

The ATF also says, so far, arson is not suspected.

Meanwhile, the Alameda County coroner's bureau identified five more victims of the deadly warehouse fire in Oakland's Fruitvale district last Friday night.

Four of the victims identified today were from Oakland: Barrett Clark, 35, Michele Sylvan, 37, Nicholas Walrath, 31, and Peter Wadsworth, 38.

Scroll to the bottom of this story to see the list of victims' names. 

 Also identified was Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, of Berkeley.

A friend of Wadsworth said in a posting on Facebook that, "He was a weird dude, which is why we were friends. He had a habit of saying crazy things you couldn't believe and then backing them up."

The friend said of Wadsworth, "Your loss is senseless and heartbreaking to me. I hope you found happiness before it was taken away from you."

Friends of Walrath said he grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from the New York University School of law, was an associate at the Durie Tangri law firm in San Francisco and previously clerked for U.S. District Court
Judge Jon Tigar.

Walrath also previously was an associate at the Quinn Emmanuel Urqhart and Sullivan firm in San Francisco and clerked for Judge Carlos Bea of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Bernbaum graduated with the highest honors as a history major and minored in film studies at Brandeis University in the Boston area in 2004, according to the university's website.

The university described Bernbaum as "a prominent visual artist in the world of electronic dance music."

Alex Green, Bernbaum's friend and classmate, told the university's news service that Bernbaum cared deeply about the world around him, relished debating issues both large and small and was a dedicated friend.

According to a Facebook posting, Clark went to Santa Rose High School, studied sound and audio engineering and worked as a sound engineer.

The release of the names means that all 36 victims have now been made public. While the coroner's bureau hasn't released the identity of a 17-year-old boy who perished in the fire, he has been identified elsewhere as Draven McGill, a student at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco.

List of victim identities released by Oakland, county officials

  • Jason McCarty, 35
  • Wolfgang Renner, 61
  • Billy Dixon, 35, of Oakland
  • Johnny Igaz, 34 of Oakland
  • Amanda Kershaw, 34, of San Francisco
  • Ara Jo, 29, of Oakland
  • Griffin Madden, 23, of Berkeley
  • Vanessa Plotkin, 21, of Lakewood
  • Hanna Ruax, 32, of Finland
  • Nicole Siegrist, 29, of Oakland
  • Alex Vega, 22, from San Bruno
  • Cash Askew, 22, of Oakland
  • Matthew Bohlka also known as Em Bohlka, 33, of Oakland
  • David Cline, 24, of Oakland
  • Micah Danemayer. 28, of Oakland
  • Alex Ghassan, 35, of Oakland
  • Travis Hough, 35, of Oakland
  • Donna Kellogg, 32, of Oakland
  • Edmond Lapine, 34, of Oakland
  • Benjamin Runnels, 32, of Oakland
  • Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, of Oakland
  • Chelsea Dolan, 33, of San Francisco
  • Nick Gomez-Hall, 25 of Coronado
  • Michela Gregory, 20, of South San Francisco
  • Sara Hoda, 30, of Walnut Creek
  • Jennifer Morris, 21, of Foster City
  • Justin Fritz of Berkeley also known as Feral Pines
  • Draven McGill, 17
  • Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, of Hayward
  • Barrett Clark, 35, of Oakland
  • Michele Sylvan, 37, of Oakland
  • Nicholas Walrath, 31, of Oakland
  • Peter Wadsworth, 38, of Oakland
  • Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, of Berkeley
  • Jennifer Mendiola, 35, of Oakland
  • Joseph Matlock, 36, of Oakland


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