Oakland Warehouse Fire One of the Deadliest in City’s History

Posted by Sean Murphy on July 13, 2018

An unauthorized dance party and concert at the Ghost Ship Artists’ Collective Warehouse turned into one of the deadliest fires in Oakland’s history. Seventy people were inside, 36 were killed. It took just 15 seconds from the time the first flame was noticed until the entire building was engulfed.

The Oakland fire department, The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Alameda County Arson Task Force compiled a 50-page report detailing important information about the three-alarm blaze and its recovery efforts. It took 25 fire firefighters five hours to extinguish the Oakland warehouse fire. The report stated that the roof collapsed, making it difficult for responders to put out the flames and search for survivors. While the exact cause is still unknown, there is speculation that it could have been an electrical failure, but candles or smoking materials could not be ruled out. According to the report, the warehouse was cluttered with furniture and had rickety stairs, dark and dangerous passageways and very few exits. One investigator said the tenant turned it into a ‘death trap.’ That individual, along with one other, were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Two years prior to the deadly incident, the Oakland Fire Captain visited the property because he was concerned after seeing the ‘high fire load’ of materials stacked inside. He sent a report but never received a follow-up. In 2018, news about the Oakland warehouse fire resurfaced because lawyers were able to reach a plea deal with the two defendants.

The Oakland warehouse fire is a tragedy that rocked the city of Oakland and the state of California. Unfortunately, warehouse fires are not uncommon. Firefighters respond to an average of 1,200 warehouse fires in the United States every year. They cause $155 million in direct property damage annually.

There are several ways to help keep fires from spreading. Working fire extinguishers and a sprinkler system throughout the property are imperative. There should always be clearly-marked, easily accessible exits. Live video surveillance can be an effective supplement to your fire safety plan. Many customized systems include security cameras that are watched in real time. Trained operators can look for smoke or flames and immediately notify local responders. In addition, thermal imaging cameras can be used to detect heat, potentially preventing costly damage.

The Oakland warehouse fire will be a strong memory for Californians for quite some time. There were many factors that contributed to an incident that could have been prevented. To increase the safety of your warehouse property, work with specialists to develop and execute a strategy.

If you would like more information about warehouse security with a video surveillance system, contact us here.

Photo credit: The Mercury News

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