Benefit honors Oakland warehouse fire victims

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- A benefit concert was held Wednesday to benefit the victims who died two weeks ago in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland's Fruitvale District.

Organizers said they expected a sold-out concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland would raise $300,000 to benefit the 36 people who perished on Dec. 2 in the fire.

"These people are part of our community and when we forget about these people we forget about our community," said Heidi Chiao.

At least 20 musical acts took to the stage to honor those killed in the Dec. 2 fire. It usually takes 8-12 weeks to organize a concert but the artists came together quickly.

"The artists decided to play on the spur of the moment," said Bryan Duquette, a promoter with Another Planet Entertainment. "Everyone came out to support this event and I think it really brought the Bay Area together."

Josette Melchor, Founder of the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, was scheduled to emcee the event.

"Tonight we hope it’s a celebration of life,” Melchor said. “We hope it’s a celebration of those that we lost."

She said the concert is a collaboration by music promoters Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment.

"We decided to get together and do what we do best and throw a show and try to raise money using that," said Dawson Ludwig, General Manager of Noise Pop.

The concert is called Oakland United. It will feature roughly 17 musicians, including headliner Primus. Funds will also be raised through a silent auction.

"Bands are playing for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes," Ludwig said. "It will be kind of a variety show format."

Organizers said all of the proceeds would go to the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts Oakland Fire Relief Fund. Melchor set up the site that now has nearly $680,000 in pledged donations. She is working on how the money will be distributed.

"Our first priority is relieving those victim’s families," Melchor said. "We’re working through the Red Cross. The Red Cross is the first immediate relief. After that we’ll be doing a broader swath of distribution so we’ll try to reach a lot of our community that’s in fact impacted like the survivors, people that lost their roommates."

The concert is personal for her and so many others who lost friends in the fire.

"We’re really doing this first and foremost for the victims but also just to kind of show that the Bay Area is united,” Ludwig said.

The event is one of many that have been held in the days since the warehouse fire. So far, numerous concerts, online fundraisers, and other events have raised a total of $1.6 million for victims.

By KTVU reporters Rob Malcolm and Cristina Rendon.

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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