Ghost Ship's Undoing: Ramshackle Network of Extension Cords

'The whole place was wires and cables and wood,' former resident says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2016 4:31 AM CST
Terrible Wiring Blamed for Oakland Fire
This Dec. 3, 2016, file image from video provided by KGO-TV shows the Ghost Ship warehouse after a deadly fire swept through the Oakland, Calif., building.   (KGO-TV via AP, File)

The ATF and Oakland authorities are due to speak about the deadly Ghost Ship fire Tuesday morning, and sources tell the East Bay Times that they're expected to blame terrible wiring for the disaster that killed 36 people. One insider tells the Times that the warehouse, described as a tinderbox that turned into a deathtrap when it caught fire during a Dec. 2 party, was powered by a network of extension cords that stretched through the building, all connected to a single line coming from a hole punched in the wall of a neighboring business. "I tried to throw a party, and the power would shut off—because of the way it was set up, all the plugs were in the same sockets," a former resident says. "The whole place was wires and cables and wood ... It would spark and smell."

The sources say ATF investigators have ruled out arson, and they no longer believe an old fridge can be pinpointed as the cause of California's worst building fire in more than a century. KGO reports that on Monday, first responders led by a bagpiper paid tribute to the 36 dead with a procession and a vigil. The group included officials from the ATF and the Oakland fire and police departments. The New York Times' graphics team has worked with former Ghost Ship residents to produce maps demonstrating why the fire in the cluttered warehouse was so deadly. People fleeing the fire down a makeshift wooden staircase would have had to have found their way around three pianos and a jumble of other furniture to get to the exit. (More Oakland fire stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.