DISASTERS: FIRES :
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Oakland Officials Fielded Multiple Complaints about Warehouse Before Deadly Fire
Oakland Officials Fielded Multiple Complaints about Warehouse
Before Deadly Fire
Phil Willon, Paige St. John and Soumya Karlamangla
December 5, 2016
Los Angeles Times
A shorter URL for the above link:
There are growing calls for a full accounting of how Oakland city officials handled safety and health issues at a warehouse where at least 36 people died in a fire amid evidence that various city agencies fielded complaints over the last two years.
I think we have to take responsibility and certainly our staff members that had that task were not as responsive or assertive as necessary, said Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo on Monday.
He and others said that the city had been aware of safety and fire hazards at the warehouse for more than two years. Neighbors and former residents have told The Times that they had contacted the city about trash and debris piled up outside the warehouse as well as their concerns about unsafe conditions there.
The owner of the building, which housed an artists collective and is in Gallos district, did not have any of the building permits or fire inspection that would have been required by the alterations inside, the councilman said.
Responding to multiple complaints from neighboring businesses and residents, a city building inspector went to the warehouse on Nov. 17 to investigate but could not get access inside the building, Gallo and city officials said.
The only question that is still outstanding for me, the administration has to tell us, well, what happened to the code inspector? Why did he just knock on the door and not pursue? Gallo said Monday. This thing has been going on for 2 1/2 years.
Police were repeatedly called to the warehouse to address complaints, according to one former resident. Those reports could not be confirmed to The Times on Sunday by Oakland police.
After a December 2014 party, one partygoer notified the city Fire Department of unsafe conditions, and it was inspected, said Danielle Boudreaux, who spent time at the warehouse. She did not know the result.
Gallo said he personally went to the building with an Oakland Police Department captain because of complaints about refuse and other junk scattered outside the warehouse. Gallo said they did not go inside, however.
City records cited allegations of at least three code violations at the building this year. In one complaint, city inspectors said there was a complaint of an illegal building on the property as well as piles of trash.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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