Three-alarm warehouse fire in Oakland affects a community of artisans, metal workers

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A three-alarm fire broke out early Friday morning at a large Oakland warehouse comprised of working artisans, but despite the flames and smoke that could be seen from the highway and the initial similarities to a possible Ghost Ship-like blaze, no one was killed or injured. 

Deputy Chief Nick Luby said there were 37 artisans who worked in the warehouse and who are part of a collective called m0xy (with a zero,) who moved into the now-defunct Eandi Metal Works at 976 23rd Avenue at East 11th Street.

Ten of those businesses were affected, Luby said, when the fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. but there were no "live-work" spaces, so no one had been formally living there. The immediate estimates on the damage were not known or made public. But part of the roof looked like it had collapsed.

But the master lease tenant of the building told firefighters that no one was inside during the fire, so there were no immediate reports of any injuries. 

Luby described the shops in the space: Bronzing shops, metal working shops, and a business that makes tree houses. "They are unique businesses, but commercial in nature," Luby said. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

After the Ghost Ship Fire in 2016, several artists moved into this 18,000-square-foot space in what's sometimes called "Jingletown" near Fruitvale, calling their collective, m0xy (with a zero), according to Oakland Magazine.  

The goal behind the open-air industrial hub was to train artists to become entrepreneurs, the magazine reported, so that they could earn a living doing what they love to do and also still afford to live in the Bay Area. 

The Ghost Ship warehouse, also located in the Fruitvale District, had been illegally converted to a live-work space and claimed the lives of 36 mostly young people artists at party when a fire broke out. The fire also reignited the debate over housing and gentrification, highlighting the lack of affordable spaces, especially for artists. 

On Friday, Kasandra O'Dell, was dropping her husband off at the Fruitvale BART station, when she saw the flames from the latest warehouse fire. 

She said she saw a couple who has a business inside the warehouse. The woman was in tears, O'Dell said, and she told her that she and her husband created art for Burning Man festivals.

With the Ghost Ship fire still on her mind, O'Dell said that seeing a warehouse fire is something that haunts her.

"It's very scary and very emotional to keep seeing this happening in this way," she said. "This is not the first warehouse that went down." 

The fire at the former metal works warehouse broke out exactly 980 days after Oakland's deadliest blaze. Meanwhile, a jury has now deliberated for about a week in that case, where the master tenant and creative director of that space are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. A verdict is expected any day.