By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Officials in Oakland, California, say a fourth victim was found Tuesday morning after firefighters extinguished a blaze in a residential building early Monday morning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Earlier reports put the death toll at three. But fire officials discovered a fourth body -- not yet identified -- inside the burned-out building. The body was taken to the Coroner’s Bureau, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office announced.
Fire marshals had inspected the building the previous Friday. They found 11 violations, including the absence of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and a working fire sprinkler system. The owner of the building was ordered to immediately service the fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems.
Building Was the Subject of Numerous Health Violation Complaints
Before the fire, residents had filed numerous complaints about the building. The complaints alleged squalid living conditions, including rodent infestations, urine and feces on the floors, and rampant mold.
Firefighters rescued at least 15 people from the burning building Monday. Some of the third-floor residents escaped the fire by using knotted-together bed sheets to lower themselves to safety, the Chronicle said. Others were taken out of the building by firefighters.
The building was home to 60 to 80 residents. It also housed some squatters and a drug treatment facility.
The actual cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Some residents said the fire was started by a burning candle that was knocked over in one of the apartments.
Residents of the building and their attorney told the Chronicle that the landlord, Keith Kim, had issued dozens of eviction notices to occupants of the building’s first and second floors in December. He cited the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire, which killed 36 people during a concert.
Displaced residents were offered shelter at a local youth center.
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” has just been published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.