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Criminal Charges Filed Against Two Involved In Oakland's Ghost Ship Fire

Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland

Local authorities arrested two individuals Monday in connection with the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland. Alameda County prosecutors have charged master tenant Derick Almena and creative director Max Harris with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, which could result in 39 years in prison, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said the two knew they were creating a fire trap and allowed people to enter that space. They did not seek a change in zoning from light industrial to live-work when up to 25 people lived in the building from 2014 to December 2016. It was Almena’s responsibility to install fire suppression systems, smoke alarms, exit signs and sprinklers, which he failed to do.

The cause of the fire has not yet been released, but it is believed to have started at a shared kitchen in the back of the building.

Documents revealed in April that the warehouse would be used as an art collective from the beginning, but no proper permits were obtained. Since the December fire, which killed 36 people, Oakland and other cities have cracked down on illegal conversions. Families of the victims also filed a lawsuit against the building owner, Almena and others in May.