The owner of a warehouse was not charged by authorities this week in relation to a deadly fire. The fire occurred at a warehouse that was illegally converted into living spaces. The tragedy took the lives of 36 people and occurred in Oakland. Prosecutors in Alameda County charged two people in the deaths of the 36.
The two people charged were a man who rented the warehouse and his assistant. Each person was charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, claiming they converted the warehouse into a venue called the “Ghost Ship,” which authorities said was a firetrap.
The fire occurred this past December. It was not mentioned if additional charges would be filed against the two or anyone else involved in the warehouse. The main person charged in the blaze is the leaseholder and operator of the building. The other person charged was a tenant and accused of holding the concert the night of the fire without a permit.
The leaseholder signed a five-year contract with the owner of the warehouse, which is located in an area zoned for commercial use, not residential use. It also wasn’t an area zoned for entertainment use.
In court documents, the county prosecutors said, “Once [leaseholder] changed the occupancy of the building, it became his responsibility under the California fire code to install fire suppression systems. Witnesses state they warned [leaseholder] numerous times about the obvious fire hazard in the warehouse.”
According to prosecutors, the leaseholder and the tenant charged in the blaze deceived the building owner, police and fire officials about people living there illegally. The owner of the building had owned it for 25 years before the fire occurred this past December.
A citation was issued in 2014 to the building owner for blight and clutter in an empty lot adjacent to the building. The issue was taken care of by the owner.
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Source: WKOW, “Prosecutors don't charge owner of warehouse in deadly fire,” Paul Elias, June 06, 2017