Oakland Fire Survivor Thankful to Be Alive

Artist suffers burns in the blaze that left at least 24 people dead

A survivor of the deadly fire at an Oakland warehouse said Saturday he's thankful to be alive.

Bob Mule told NBC News he belongs to a 24-hour artist collective occupying the building that burned overnight, leaving at least 24 people dead. 

Mule was seen being treated in an ambulance early Saturday. He suffered "pretty gnarly" burns on his arms, hands and shoulder, he said. His vest was charred and appeared to have taken the brunt of the flames.

When the fire broke out, Mule said he was downstairs and about to start painting. But the acrid smell of smoke alerted him and a fellow artist to what exploded into a three-alarm fire.

"We were trying to figure out where the smoke was coming from, and we saw where the fire was, it was on the back left corner of the space," he said. "It all happened really quickly. The fire went up really, really quickly."

Deadly Fire Rips Through Converted Warehouse in Oakland

When Mule tried to retrieve some personal belongings, he saw that a fellow collective member "had broken his ankle and was calling out for help." Mule tried helping him out, but "there was a lot of stuff in the way and the flames were too much," he said.

"There was too much smoke and ... I had to let him go," Mule said.

Although glad to be alive, he remained worried about his friend.

"I haven't seen him and there've been flames shooting out of the building for the past 30 minutes. ... I hope he's OK," Mule said.

Mule said before the fire broke out, the collective was having an event with some music, art and projections. He said the collective consists of 18 working artists throughout the day.

"It's like a living piece of art; it's always in flux, as far as the space goes," he said. "There's always something being built, being changed or rearranged."

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