36 partygoers confirmed dead in Oakland warehouse fire, several still missing
The search for answers continued Monday in Oakland as city, state and federal agencies sifted through wreckage in one of the city's deadliest building fires on record.Bucket by bucket, investigators painstakingly removed debris from inside the warehouse-turned-art-space, narrowing the fire's origin to the rear of the building, Oakland Fire Deputy Director Darin White said. By Monday afternoon, about 70% of the building had been cleared. In another area of the property, the sheriff''s coroner began autopsies on the 36 bodies so far discovered, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern said. Twenty-two victims have been positively identified and their families have been notified. An additional 11 victims have been tentatively identified and three victims need scientific identification.A criminal investigation team from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office is on site, working alongside law enforcement, the Oakland Fire Department and federal investigators to ascertain criminal liability, and, if so, who could be responsible, District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said."It is not clear right now and is too early to speculate," she said of the circumstances of the fire that broke out late Friday. "We will leave no stone unturned."Oakland fire victims: What we knowMeanwhile, questions remain about leaseholder Derick Ion Almena, the man behind the arts collective known as the Ghost Ship, and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the tragedy. Almena, who is believed to have been away from the site when the fire broke out, has not responded to requests for comment. At least 36 people are confirmed dead, including teenagers, a deputy's son, and three people from outside the US, in the blaze, which gutted the converted warehouse during an electronic dance party Friday night. Most of the bodies were found in the center of the building, Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton said. A fence and sidewalk near the site became a memorial, with loved ones and others leaving flowers, candles, photographs and messages.What was Oakland's Ghost Ship?The fire spread so quickly that resident Jose Avalos had no time to help, he told CNN. He was in his loft when he heard someone call for an extinguisher. Before he could get down to offer support, he heard someone say, "Fire! Everyone get out!"He grabbed his dogs and rushed to the front door where he fell into others trying to escape, he said. "By the time I was through the front doors, I could just see the flames coming and then they just engulfed the front archway of my studio," he said. "I looked back and I just saw smoke everywhere. I couldn't really see anything. Got out of the building and I just saw smoke and then flames coming out the doors and the windows."