9 confirmed dead in Oakland fire, death toll could rise - Alameda Co. Sheriff (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)
Nine people were pulled from the debris and were transported for identification procedures to the coroner’s office, Alameda County Sheriff's Office stated in a press briefing Saturday.
However, more bodies could still be trapped and the authorities decided to use heavy equipment to remove the debris.
In a press briefing on the incident, Fire Chief Teresa Deloach-Reed confirmed nine deaths and warned that the toll could rise as the property is more thoroughly searched, Reuters reports.
It's not clear just how many people were inside the premises at the time.
"There is a large majority of that building that has not been searched," she said.
The rescue and search operation is expected to last into Monday.
The blaze broke out on 31st Ave in Oakland during a party advertised as a ‘Rave Cave’ as part of musician Golden Donna’s ‘100% Silk’ West Coast tour.
The fire raged for several hours, with 55 firefighters drafted in to tackle the blaze. It is not yet known how it started.
Deloach-Reed told local media that the building had no sprinkler system and it appears that no smoke detectors went off.
“This is a true loss for the city, for the firefighters who responded, and the people who lost family and friend. It’s just tragic, a real tragedy,” she said.
Local TV station KPIX tweeted that fire officials cannot complete a search of the building because it is currently “unstable.”
The Alameda County Coroner told KPIX that they are preparing for a “mass casualty event.”
The sherrif's office said there could be up to 40 victims.
Dozens of people posted on the event’s Facebook page to say that they had safely escaped the fire, while others enquired about friends and relatives yet unaccounted for.
One, Eveline Darroch, wrote: “I am here with the fire inspector going through the list of missing names of missing/safe. At this point there are several threads. I am requesting that you only post in this thread their name and missing or safe next to it. Thank you.”
The building also reportedly housed an artists' collective.
A Twitter account that posts about Oakland firefighters had earlier reported that the fire proceeded through the roof and all units were told to withdraw from the building at one point.