The family of Chor Ng, the property owner of Oakland’s Ghost Ship, sounded tired and overwhelmed Saturday afternoon after learning early that morning about the fatal fire that killed at least 24 people.
“I’m sorry but we do not have any comment, we are also trying to figure out what’s going on like everybody else,” the family wrote in a statement to the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. "We’re so sorry to hear about the tragedy. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of those injured and those who lost their lives.”
Ng’s daughter Eva and son-in-law Edward Liou refuted claims by fire officials that the building’s makeshift staircase was made out of wooden pallets. They said the staircase was a permitted stairway. Survivors of the blaze said a single, shoddily built staircase hampered efforts to exit the warehouse.
The warehouse had been under investigation before the deadly fire. The Oakland Planning and Building Department launched an investigation into the habitability of the warehouse less than a month ago, citing an “illegal interior building structure.”
Records show the warehouse and surrounding area have been the subject of nearly 10 blight complaints over the past decade.
Property records show Ng is linked to 17 other properties in the Bay Area, either individually or through a trust.
One of those buildings on San Francisco’s Lombard Street houses apartments and a dry cleaning business. Last year city inspectors noted violations involving cracked walls and loose ceilings. Those violations were later corrected.
The City of Oakland received four complaints since 2011 about another property owned by Ng in the city’s Chinatown District. Three of the complaints involved graffiti. The other had to do with sewer waste leaking from the building, which houses a restaurant, onto adjacent properties. The most recent complaint came this summer.
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