Derick Almena, operator of the Ghost Ship warehouse, has been arrested for involuntary manslaughter relating to the warehouse fire last year, that left 36 people dead, according to the Alameda District Attorney’s Office.
The warehouse, which was zoned and permitted only as a warehouse, became a live-and-work space for many artists. Electricity was provided throughout the building by a wire running through a hole in the wall from an auto body shop next door. People described extension cords running willy-nilly throughout the building and also described it as a deathtrap and a tinderbox, according to The Mercury News. A party was held at the property the night of the fire.
Sam Harris, a warehouse tenant has also been taken into custody, and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is expected to announce official filling of criminal charges later today.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Fire Was One Of the Most Lethal Fires in U.S. History
With a death toll of 36, the Ghost Ship Warehouse fire is the deadliest fire in Oakland history, and seventh deadliest in U.S history.
The “Ghost Ship” was filled with combustible wooden objects and didn’t have a sprinkler system. Many people were trapped on the second floor during the illegal party, when the staircase made of wooden pallets quickly went up in flames, according to NBC.
2. Almena Is Currently on Probation
Alemena, 46, was convicted of receiving stolen property in January, according to NBC Bay Area. He spent two days in jail then, plead no contest to a misdemeanor. He is currently on probation till 2019 for that incident.
Alemana received a stolen Airstream trailer from his landlord back in January of 2015.
3. Max Harris Is the Other Person Being Charged
Max Harris, also known as Max Ohr, was the doorman the night of the deadly fire and considered himself the “creative director” or “camp counselor” at the warehouse, according to The Mercury News.
4. Almena Was Caught Lying on a Police Body Cam in 2014
The body cam footage, which was taken by police who were investigating a nearby fire, shows Almena talking to officers about the purpose of his new “collective” and bragging about all the “antiques” he has inside, according to The Mercury News.
Video of the incident can be viewed below:
5. Almena’s Facebook Post After the Fire Received Criticism
Almena posted to Facebook, a message many thought was insensitive, after hearing about the fire at his warehouse, according to NBC Bay Area. The post read as follows:
Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound…it’s as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope…to be standing now in poverty of self worth.
According to NBC Bay Area, the post prompted more than 2,000 comments, many of whom questioned his concern for material possessions, when 36 people lost their lives in the fire.