Oakland warehouse fire: First responders hold vigil

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- Ten days have passed since the fire at the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland's Fruitvale District claimed the lives of over 30 people and rescue workers who were the first ones on the scene gathered Monday night for a vigil.

As a bagpipe played, first responders from Oakland's fire and police departments, joined by members from the Alameda County sheriff's department, joined in a process to pay tribute to the 36 souls who perished in the blaze on Dec. 2 at the warehouse. The American Red Cross led the procession.

"We need to heal and start to come together and (see) how we can best move on as a community," said Lt. Dan Robertson with the Oakland Fire Department.

The participants made the short solemn walk from Fire House No. 13 to the Ghost Ship Warehouse.

"There's an amazing satisfaction in just being able to help people when they really desperately need help," said Ed Moore, a chaplain with the Alameda sheriff's office.

Jayson Landeza, the Oakland Fire Department chaplain, said it's important to, "Be with each other and to be together in mournful solidarity with the families and friends of those who perished here." 

First responders say there's no escaping the heartbreak over the loss of lives.

One battalion chief who responded to the fire on that Friday night said it was among the worst incidents he's seen in his 17 years with the department.

"It's hard work," Battalion Chief Nick Luby said. "It's mentally and physically draining work for the four days of recovery that we did."

The vigil was a way to offer emotional recovery for those who worked the traumatic scene.

"Some days are difficult days," Robertson said. "That was a particularly difficult day."

Moore said he was shaken by the number of people who died in the blaze.

"That was the part that shocked me," he said.

Chaplains with the Alameda sheriff were given the grim task of notifying families about their loved ones while at the same time coping with what happened.

"You're wondering how many people were in there," Moore said. "That was one of the things that really affected me."

During the vigil, the fire bell rang 36 times before a moment of silence followed. The first responders who rushed to the Fruitvale District that night said they take comfort in knowing they helped families make sense of the chaos. 

"What kept us going was knowing that we were a support system for people whose lives and families had been tragically torn apart by the incident," Moore said.

By KTVU reporter Amber Lee.

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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