Fatal West Oakland fire: 4 victims killed

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OAKLAND (KTVU) -- Officials said Tuesday that they believe all of the victims have been found after a fire broke out yesterday, destroying a West Oakland building and killing four people.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation. 

Firefighters were on scene all day and quickly contained some flare ups. 

Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said city and county officials are in the process of notifying relatives of the four people who died during the four-alarm fire that broke out Monday morning at the three-story building located at 2551 San Pablo Ave.

One of the victims has been identified by the coroner's bureau as Edwarn Anderson, 64, of Oakland. Authorities on Tuesday identified a second victim. The coroner's office said Cassandra Robertson, 50, of Oakland, was a resident of the building. The other identities were pending.

>>>>>To see documents about the troubled building: Click here

Kelly said during a Tuesday morning press conference that the building will have to be demolished because of the fire damage. He also said there is no reason to believe foul play was involved in the fire, which remains under investigation.

"We've used the dogs, our drone technology and we have also physically been inside the building and searched it," Kelly said. "We feel at this time we won't find any more victims."


The fire broke out in the rundown neighborhood nearly three months after a warehouse called the Ghost Ship caught fire and killed 36 people attending an unlicensed concert about five miles away.

The primary tenant in the building has been identified as Urojas Community Services, which offers transitional housing.

In 2010, Oakland allowed the owner of the 40-unit building that burned Monday to convert the structure into transitional housing for recovering drug addicts, people struggling with homelessness and others, records show.

Since then, it has been the subject of several building department citations and investigations. City records show building officials verified complaints filed by the nonprofit organization that rents most of the building about deferred maintenance.

The owner, Keith Kim, was sent a notice of violation on March 2 over complaints of large amounts of trash and debris, building materials and furniture behind the property. Kim was not immediately available for comment.

The building department also has an open investigation into complaints of "no working heat throughout the building, electrical issues and a large pest infestation," city records show.

The building, a half-city block long, is destroyed. the approximately 100 tenants who lived there are near the bottom of the economic ladder. 

Most of them are now staying at at a nearby  shelter at the West Oakland Youth Center.

Among them is Lasean Boyd. "I lost everything. Clothes shoes. Phones," he said.

He says he had been homeless and an alcoholic until finding a room and counseling program in the now destroyed building five years ago.

He said conditions were deplorable. But he couldn't move and it was better than  nothing.

Fire inspectors visited the building three days before the blaze and found it lacked fire extinguishers, smoke detectors in each apartment and a working fire sprinkler system, among other violations, according to documents released by the city.

Inspectors on Friday ordered the owner to immediately service the fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems.

At this point anyone interested in donating to a relief fund for the fire victims should call the City of Oakland at 510-238-7003 or here and write "support for fire victims" in the comments section. 

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.