OAKLAND, California. – A former tenant of an Oakland warehouse says that the police were called to the residence a number of times to help in the evacuation before a fire last year killed three dozen people, and even knew that the tenant of the name.
Jose Avalos, a woodworker who moved to the Ghost Ship, two years before the Dec. 2, 2016 fire, testified Thursday on the second day of a preliminary hearing for two men charged with involuntary manslaughter in their deaths, Derick Almena, 47, and Max Harris, 27.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Avalos testified an officer often stopped by the warehouse to check in, to ask, “Is my best friend Derick here?”
Prosecutors say Almena and Harris were chiefly responsible for the warehouse. Almena, the master tenant sublet areas in the space between the $350 to $1,400, according to a probable cause statement. Harris received rent from the residents, and the public prosecutor said that he rented on the second floor of the warehouse for the electronic music festival the night of the fire.
Avalos testified Thursday that there are frequent power outages on the Ghost Ship and that the residents would go to the auto body shop, in addition to reset the circuit breaker when the power went out.
“There was a long period of time, we didn’t have constant power,” Avalos testified. “We had to be careful. There were times that it happened, day after day. Sometimes it would be like once a week.”
The cause of the deadly burned was listed as undetermined.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial with the charges against Almena and Harris after the preliminary hearing, which is expected to last five days.