Monday, 20 November, 2017

One dead in Oakland residential building fire

Saul Franklin | 08 April, 2017, 07:46

Residents woke up to a fatal fire in West Oakland that broke out at 4 a.m. Monday morning. Urojas shared the property with two other nonprofits - House of Change and Dignity Housing West, according to Lowery - but it was the third floor that became a problem.

Jones said a prayer of gratitude for surviving the fire that killed three people and hurt four others, including two children. The property had been the target of building department investigations and citations since 2010, when the city allowed the owner to convert the structure into transitional housing for recovering drug addicts, people struggling with homelessness and others, records show. When fire crews arrived on scene there was heavy smoke and flames visible, Logan said, and he did not hear any alarms going off.

On Feb. 23, a neighbor complained that there were large amounts of trash and debris, building materials and furniture on the back of the property.

They included a lack of emergency lighting and exit signs, a sprinkler system in need of immediate service, missing smoke detectors in tenants rooms, "extension cords in lieu of power/electrical outlets throughout building", and a lack of fire extinguishers, fire Inspector David Davis wrote in notes. Lawyer James Cook said he last spoke with building owner Keith Kim on Friday.

The cause is under investigation.

Logan estimated that 50 to 60 people lived in the old building.

Associated Press has reported that Building inspectors found multiple fire code violations at an Oakland, California building just three days before a blaze erupted, killing three of the low-income residents.

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"When firefighters first went in, they saw what might have looked like a body on the third floor, but the flames were so intense they had to retreat", Logan told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/2o9Ngbc ). Eighteen of those complaints occurred within the past five years, including the Urojas request on March 2 for an inspection of the facility by code enforcement for "alleged deferred maintenance by (the) landlord".

"At least the rats are gone", Angela Taylor, 62, said after the fire.

Over the past decade, the city has received 20 complaints about rodent infestation, electrical issues, mold, trash, graffiti, floors caving in, roof leaks and other blight issues.

The Ghost Ship warehouse that burned December 2 also was the target of public safety warnings in the months before the fire.

Firefighters battle an early morning apartment fire Monday, March 27, 2017, in Oakland, Calif.

Kim attempted to evict the group of residents living with Urojas Community Services after the Ghost Ship fire. Kirsten Evans, 52, said she is paying $1,100 a month for a small studio apartment without a kitchen in the building.

Residents reported deplorable living conditions, including almost unpassable hallways filled with trash, tattered furniture and other debris.

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