Source of Oakland warehouse fire may have been refrigerator

OAKLAND (AP)–The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says it is looking at the possibility that a refrigerator or other appliance was the source of a warehouse fire that killed 36 people.

Jill Snyder, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s San Francisco office, said it’s too early to say for sure a refrigerator caused the blaze, but she said it was a potential source of ignition.

Snyder said investigators are looking at anything electrical on the first floor of the warehouse near where the fire started.

The fire broke out during a dance party Friday night. Crews have searched 90 percent of the building for bodies.

Heavy machinery was being used Tuesday afternoon to knock down structurally unsafe parapets at the building.

The three-alarm fire at the “Ghost Ship,” a warehouse at 1305 31st Ave. used as a live/work space by an artist collective, sparked at about 11:30 p.m. during an electronic music show.

Sheriff’s officials said they don’t think additional bodies will be found.

Meanwhile, the district attorney’s office said a criminal investigation into the warehouse fire will look at everything.

Crews will be taking down parts of the roof and knock inside the building to check for safety, according to KRON4’s Dan Kerman.

The area where debris will fall is clear of bodies.

Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder with the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday afternoon that a refrigerator near the back of the building was a possible
ignition source, but that has not been conclusively determined.

Snyder said investigators are being “very meticulous” as they search through the wreckage and are looking at other appliances and electrical outlets for a possible source.

She said there is no indication at this point that the fire was intentionally set.

Fire Operations Chief Mark Hoffman said crews planned to knock the parapets down into the building, but clarified that the area where they will fall has been searched and cleared of any bodies or evidence.

Authorities said they have brought in cadaver dogs and used other tools during the search and believe there are not any more bodies in the 10 percent of the building still not searched.

The coroner’s bureau has released the names of 17 victims, while an 18th, a San Francisco high school student, was identified by his school.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has launched a criminal investigation of the incident.

Snyder said that authorities hope to complete the search of the building before rainy weather hits the Bay Area.

The National Weather Service estimates that rain will come into the Bay Area late Wednesday.

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