As many as nine people died in a fire that broke out during a rave in an Oakland warehouse Friday (Dec. 2) night. More than two dozen people remain unaccounted for thus far, but the death toll is expected to rise to up to 40 people, Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Graves said according to CNN.
“We are preparing for the worst, which would be about 40 people,” Graves told reporters. “It may not be that many. These people could be at the hospital or with friends. That’s just the worst case we are preparing for.”
Many of the deceased were reportedly trapped on the “Ghostship” building’s second floor, and with a stairwell made of pallets, the victims had little chance of escaping the tragedy.
“The building itself was an art piece,” Lauren Hobbs, 24, told the East Bay Times. “The walls were completely covered with makeshift pieces of wood, so finding the staircase if you’d never been there before was difficult because they had built it into the wall in a certain way.”
Hobbs attended the party with a handful of friends. “I can’t imagine how long it’d take 40 people to get out,” she said adding, “even in a calm situation.”
Around 100 people were in attendance as the fire broke out at around 11:30 p.m. The EDM party was scheduled from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Survivors did whatever possible to make it out alive, with one woman breaking an ankle as she escaped to safety.
In the aftermath, several attendees and Bay Area residents took to social media to update family and friends on their safety, and spread the word about outlets to locate missing loved ones.
Additionally, a crowdfunding page has been started for the victims. The Oakland A’s announced that it will be matching donations up to $20,000.
See more on the fire in the video below.