Survivors Describe Living Conditions, Allege Electrical Problems Inside Burned Out Oakland Warehouse - NBC Bay Area
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Survivors Describe Living Conditions, Allege Electrical Problems Inside Burned Out Oakland Warehouse

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two artists say they lived in the “24 hour art studio” among 15-20 other residents. They law enforcement had been inside building several times and that the landlord failed to fix recurring electrical problems in the building. Senior Investigative reporter Vicky Nguyen reports in a story that first aired December 4, 2016. (Published Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016)

    New accusations are emerging from people who lived inside the Oakland warehouse known as the “Ghost Ship,” now the site of 33 confirmed deaths after an inferno erupted Friday night.

    Artist Bob Mule, along with Max Ohr, a jeweler and self-described “senior member” of the art space, say it was no secret 15-20 artists lived and worked in the building.

    “The landlord was very well aware we were an art space and open to the public,” Ohr said. “The power was a very big issue. It was off as much as it was on. It was never really fully resolved at all.

    “We work on our art, we go to sleep, we wake up and we work on our art,” Mule said, calling the building a “24-hour art space” where he’s been a resident artist for about a year.

    The two refute claims by the building owner’s daughter, Eva Ng, that no one lived in the warehouse. Ng's husband said his wife had been reassured by the lease holder that nobody lived there.

    Further, Ohr says electrical issues continued to be a problem with intermittent power to the building and regular power outages. He says he believes the fire started on the first floor, in an area of the warehouse that was cordoned off from the party upstairs, where he estimated 70 people were dancing.

    Ohr said, “The area it was in was closed off. There was no one over there. There was no one who dropped a cigarette.”

    He said within seconds of seeing the flames, he ran to his space and grabbed a fire extinguisher.

    “The power cut out, and it was pitch black. There was no more than 2 minutes from the point of someone screaming ‘fire’ to getting evacuated and just knowing people probably weren’t gonna make it out.”

    Mule said it was common knowledge people were always occupying the building. He says even law enforcement had visited more than once.

    “Multiple police officers, firefighters came to our space and said this place is amazing,” Mule said.

    Attempts to reach Ng for comment about the latest allegations have been unsuccessful.

    City records obtained by the Investigative Unit confirm inspectors received multiple complaints about the building over the past decade. Just last month, inspectors responded to new complaints about blight and illegal construction.

    “We had received recent complaints about blight and unpermitted construction at the property. We had opened an investigation, and that investigation is ongoing,” Oakland’s planning and building Director Darin Ranelletti said.

    It is not clear whether any citations or immediate actions were taken following the most recent investigation by the city.