At least nine people are dead but officials say that number may eventually reach 40 after what could be the deadliest structure fire in Oakland history, the East Bay Times reports. According to KTVU, the massive blaze broke out at a two-story warehouse late Friday night during a dance party. The warehouse is home to artists and their studios and hosts parties to raise rent money despite not being permitted as a residential or event space, the Los Angeles Times reports. There were up to 100 people inside when the fire started. The AP reports video from the scene showed flames coming through the roof, which eventually collapsed. Most of the dead were found on the warehouse's second floor. It doesn't appear any smoke detectors went off, and the warehouse didn't have a sprinkler system.
It took four hours and 55 firefighters to get the blaze under control, and a large portion of the building has yet to be searched. Debris and the caved-in roof are slowing the search, which could take two days to complete. Fire chief Teresa Deloach-Reed described the warehouse's interior as "a maze almost." Friends and family are taking to social media to see if their loved ones made it out; some still haven't heard from people they know were there. Bob Mule, a photographer who lives in the warehouse, says he tried to get an injured friend out but the flames were too intense. “I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke," he tells the East Bay Times. "I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work.” No cause for the deadly fire has been given, but arson isn't suspected. (Read more fire stories.)