Oakland Fire Kills At Least 9 At Warehouse Party

Oakland Fire Kills At Least 9 At Warehouse Party
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At least nine people died in the fire as scores of others escaped when a fast-spreading furious fire broke out during a festive gathering of artists on the second floor of a warehouse in Oakland. But the fates of more than two dozen people were still unknown Saturday afternoon, hours after the blaze that gutted the two-story warehouse.

In a news conference Saturday, authorities said they expected the death toll to rise, but they did not know by how much. “We’re expecting the worse – maybe a couple dozen victims here,” Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters.

“We did not have a lot of victims go to the hospital,” Kelly said. “It appears that people either made it out, or they didn’t make it out.”

Drones equipped with thermal technology were being used to scan the building for possible survivors, Kelly said. Initial reports, however, were grim.

“The drones were being used with a thermal imager,” Kelly said. “It’s very, very helpful technology. It allows us to focus in, and we can actually see the heat coming off of someone if they are alive. We didn’t see any heat signatures of live people. Not to say that there’s not, but the chances are very small.”

The Oakland Fire Department said it fears the news is very grim: that as many as 40 people were burned in the two-story structure that housed artists’ studios and stored so many things that the housing department had notified property owners of violations for trash and debris.

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