Two men have been arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection to the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland that killed three dozen people last December.
According to CNN, Derick Almena, the lease holder, and Max Harris, a tenant, face 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. The fire started on the night of Dec. 2 during an EDM party hosted by label 100% Silk, with hundreds inside. The two-story warehouse reportedly “had not been inspected in 30 years.”
The cause of the fire remains unknown. Almena, who lived in the warehouse, plans to fight the charges, with his lawyer saying Monday “we are confident that this attempt to make a scapegoat out of our client will fail.” In January, reported the San Francisco Chronicle, lawyers for Almena claimed that the fire started in the building adjacent to the warehouse.
The Ghost Ship had been home to a community of artists and regularly hosted concerts and parties. The interior was a labyrinth of bespoke rooms, cluttered with furniture and art, that made escape difficult once the fire broke out. According to CNN, Almena and Harris secretly allowed up to 25 people to live in the facility, and also allowed “large quantities” of flammable materials to be stored there. On the night of the fire, “one of two exits to get away from the fire had been blocked.”
Both men face up to 39 years in prison.