Lawyer says families pleased with charges for warehouse fire
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on charges in the Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 people in December (all times local):
The lead attorney representing relatives of half of people who died in a massive warehouse fire says the families are pleased with criminal charges filed against the men who authorities say turned the building into an illegal artists’ collective.
Attorney Mary Alexander said, however, she’s disappointed the owner of the building hasn’t been charged. Alexander said she believes the owner is just as responsible as the two men arrested on charges of illegally converting the warehouse to house upward of two dozen people.
Derick Almena and Max Harris were charged Monday with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of three dozen people who died in the Dec. 2 fire in Oakland.
Alameda County prosecutors declined to discuss whether more people would be charged, but they did say their investigation was closed.
Alexander and several other attorneys represent the families of 18 victims who are suing Almena, Harris, the building’s owner and others for wrongful death.
Attorneys for a man who ran the Ghost Ship warehouse, where 36 people died in a massive fire, say their client is being made a scapegoat as prosecutors blame him for the deaths in Oakland.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced Monday that warehouse operator Derick Almena had been charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors say he rented out space in the illegally converted warehouse and “knowingly created a firetrap” with no way to escape.
Almena’s attorneys said in a statement that the charges “represent no less than a miscarriage of justice.”
Max Harris, who also lived at the Ghost Ship and is accused of organizing a dance party on the night of the fire, faces the same charges.
Each defendant could face up to 39 years in prison if convicted.
The Alameda County district attorney says she has filed 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter against two men in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed three dozen people in December in Oakland, California.
District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced the charges on Monday against Derick Almena, saying he rented out space in the illegally converted warehouse, and Max Harris, who is accused of planning an unpermitted party.
Both men were arrested earlier Monday.
Prosecutors say so much evidence was destroyed in the blaze that a specific cause of the fire will likely never be known.
O’Malley says the organizers were reckless and “knowingly created a firetrap with inadequate means of escape.” She says one way out of the building was blocked.
O’Malley says each defendant could face up to 39 years in prison if convicted.
A source close to the investigation tells The Associated Press that two men have been arrested and will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 partygoers in Oakland.
The Alameda County district attorney says she will formally announce charges later Monday.
The person says Derick Almena and Max Harris will each be charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
The source was not authorized to publicly discuss the charges and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Authorities say Almena leased the warehouse and illegally sublet space for artists to live and work. He also held for-profit concerts at the warehouse, which authorities say was not licensed for entertainment.
Harris lived at the Ghost Ship and is accused of helping plan the December concert where the fire broke out.