Vigil honors Oakland warehouse fire victims

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- A vigil was held Friday night in Oakland's Fruitvale District Friday just outside the Ghost Ship warehouse and seven days after 36 people died when a fire broke out in the two-story building.

The emotional gathering started out with dozens of people who met at the Fruitvale Village. Although the gathering was relatively small it packed a big emotional punch as one woman made a heartfelt plea for change.

"That is a tomb," said Sonjia Miles as she pointed at the warehouse. "36 people died in there because it was mismanaged."

Miles, who was invited to attend the dance party that night but decided not to go, said five of her friends died in the gutted warehouse. She is now calling on property owners to put safety before profits.

"We need to respect the lives that have been lost in Oakland," she said. "There's other people suffering just like those people here."

During the Friday vigil, an Aztec dance group performed a prayer ceremony. The group was started by a 15 year old boy who lives just down the street from the warehouse.

Frank Cortes said he did not know the victims but feels he has a duty to help his community heal.

"People only die when they're not remembered (or).when their name isn't spoken of again," said Cortes, who founded the Aztec Mexica Dance Group. "That's when things die."

The crowd marched along International Boulevard to the barricade on 31st Street just outside the Ghost Ship warehouse. Vigil organizer Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale neighborhood on the Oakland City Council, said he hopes this walk will be a step on the pathway to change.

He wants Oakland residents report hazardous conditions while at the same time calling on landlords to make their properties safe without displacing tenants.

"We're willing as a city to work with you to make those enhancements," Gallo said. "Whether it's the electrical outlets (or) whatever you need. But we don't want you to throw people out on the street."

Miles says she also wants safer living conditions in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"Please don't let my friends die in vain," she said. "Start caring."

She says she'd like to see the Ghost Ship Warehouse torn down and rebuilt as safe, affordable housing.   A faith leader who also spoke at the vigil called for a renewed commitment to make Oakland a safer place to live.

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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