Lawyer: Ghost Ship fire started in adjacent building


OAKLAND (KRON)—The defense team for Derick Ion Almena announced Monday that the origin of the fire was at the building next to the “Ghost Ship” warehouse.

The team said it has received a reliable scientific report supporting their findings.

The report would help dismiss any criminal negligence charges against Almena, according to the team.

The 10-page report is titled “Was Ghost Ship fire caused by inadequate Utility Wiring?” which tries to prove that Almena is not responsible for sparking the fire. An on-site investigation and inspection found that there was a fire the night of December 2 in the adjacent building and there was damage to the roof.

“(T)here appears to be a single feed that goes in to the (neighboring) building to serve multiple customers,” the report says. “It also appears that there is fire affecting more than just the Ghost Ship occupied section.”


The defense team had an expert inspect the damage of the building on January 15 and take pictures showing the building’s power connections. They are not releasing who they hired to inspect the building.

The team claims the neighboring warehouse had electrical equipment attached to it that was removed after the fire.

The images released show that the fire was not constrained to the Ghost Ship warehouse and there was extensive damage to the adjacent building, according to the team. The fire was extensive enough that the fire department had to remove the roof from the adjacent building, according to the defense team.

The electrical distribution from the Ghost Ship warehouse came from inside the adjacent building, the defense team said.

A lawyer for the families of two people killed in the Dec. 2 fire dismissed the report as irrelevant.

“Wherever the fire started, and I’m not saying it was next door, the people couldn’t get out and it’s because of (Almena) building this makeshift second floor (and) makeshift stairs,” said attorney Mary Alexander. “They couldn’t find a way out. (There were) no sprinklers, exit signs, light for exits. (There was) only one way out that (the victims) could find and then it’s a maze to get out.”

The city of Oakland communications director Karen Boyd said the investigation into what sparked the warehouse fire is still ongoing after hearing of the defense team’s report.

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Oakland Fire Department are collaborating on a comprehensive investigation of the 31st Avenue warehouse fire,” Boyd said in a statement. “The investigation will yield a report that addresses the cause and origin of the fire. That report will be forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office as part of the ongoing criminal investigation. It’s premature to speculate about the origin of the fire until all investigations are complete. ”

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