Witnesses testify in ‘Ghost Ship’ warehouse fire hearing
A fire in December 2016, with 36 people killed in an Oakland warehouse that had been converted to an artists ‘ collective.
Two California men to go to trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in 2016, Oakland warehouse fire that killed dozens of revelers, a judge ruled Thursday.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner said prosecutors presented enough evidence to go forward with their criminal case against Derick Almena and Max Harris in the death of the 36 party-goers, the San Francisco Chronicle. The blaze was the deadliest building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade.
Almena rented from the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship that burned on Dec. 2, 2016, during an electronic music concert. Harris also lived in the building, and a witness stated that Harris was the leadership of the unauthorized concert.
The warehouse illegally converted into living quarters for artists, was messy and had no sprinkler system, according to the researchers. Prosecutors said that the men were made aware of a firetrap and deceived the building owner, the police and fire department officials about the people who live there.
Derick Almena (left) and Max Harris (right) will go to research into the deadly warehouse blaze.
(Alameda County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)
The two pleaded not guilty and said that they are already scapegoated.
The judge gave his ruling after several days of testimony provided a glimpse of the prosecutors’ case against Almena and Harris.
Aaron Marin, a musician who lived in the warehouse called escape the fire by jumping from an upstairs window. He said the window was blocked by a projection screen, making it not visible for most people.
He also testified that he did not address the storage a fire while he was there.
A second witness, Jose Avalos, testified that he was under 15 to 25 people who lived in the warehouse at any given time, and that he paid his rent of $565 per month Harris.
“I felt like it was a place that would accept me,” he said. “I don’t really find that too much.”
Avalos disputed that Harris was second-in-command in the warehouse and said everyone pitched in to maintain the community.
Avalos also said that the police were called to the building a number of times to help with expansion of the fire, and was even known to the tenant with the name.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.