OAKLAND, CA — Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Kelly said authorities have found 30 victims from the fire at an Oakland warehouse.
Authorities say 80% of the building has been searched. Kelly said names could be released in the next 24 hours.
Rescue crews are still searching for victims in the wreckage of a converted two-story warehouse gutted by a deadly blaze during an electronic dance party.
The fire broke out late Friday, and officials say they fear the toll could rise to 40.
Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed said emergency responders found most victims on the second floor — where the party was being held — because the single stairway had become inaccessible.
‘You could feel the heat of the flames’
Freelance journalist Sam Lefebvre said many people were just arriving at the warehouse when the fire started since the dance party was supposed to go very late. The warehouse is a “sort of live/work art space with a lot of old decorations and furniture,” Lefebvre told CNN. An electronic music DJ known as Golden Donna was scheduled to perform.
By the time John Evanofski arrived at 31st Avenue, giant flames lit up the night sky amid the billows of black smoke.
“You could feel the heat of the flames,” he told CNN. “Most of us were crying or unable to react. It was so hot and so terrible knowing that so many of us were still inside.”
Concerned family and friends used social media to find loved ones and offer support.
A Facebook page created for the event became a forum for friends and family of the victims who posted frantic messages seeking information about loved ones. Those who survived shared their names to show they were safe.