Oakland residents who live near the warehouse where 33 people were confirmed dead in a fire early Saturday say the tragedy could have been avoided.
City officials confirmed previous investigations into complaints about the warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. The structure was not zoned for parties or as a residential property.
Over the years, neighbors complained to city and fire officials that the Ghost Ship venue and art collective was an illegal live/work space.
A neighbor said the property did not have hot water, central heating or a kitchen. Other residents complained about trash piling up on the property and fire code violations. There were no smoke detectors or a sprinkler system inside the warehouse.
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, who lives a block away from the warehouse, told the East Bay Times, "We were reporting the issues when it came to the illegal dumping, creating the rooms, no permits".
The fire broke out around 11:30 pm at an electronic music rave party for artists and musicians on Friday, Fire Chief Teresa Deloach-Reed confirmed. About 50-100 people attended the party.
She said firefighters who arrived to battle the blaze were hindered by a massive amount of clutter, including furniture, art, statues, mannequins, a coffin and other junk.
"It was filled end to end with furniture, collections, and whatnot," said Deloach-Reed.
"It was like a maze almost."
Nine bodies were recovered from the 2nd floor on Saturday.
A makeshift staircase of stacked wooden pallets made it difficult for the victims to escape. "We know it was going to be difficult if it started anywhere near that stairwell," she said.
The search for more bodies continued on Sunday after the building was stabilized. The building was not safe to enter because the fire caused the roof to collapse onto the 2nd floor, which collapsed onto the first floor.
Facebook users vented their anger at Derick Ion Almena, the artist who leased the warehouse and lived there with his wife, Micah, their 3 children, and 18 artists and musicians.
Almena published a post soon after the fire broke out, bemoaning the loss of his material possessions.
"Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound," he wrote early Saturday.
He added: "it's as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope... to be standing now in poverty of self worth."
Outraged Facebook users noted Almena's lack of remorse about the lives lost.
"40 people are dead and this is your response, really?" wrote Lauren Stephens.
Trevor Shane added: 'Only someone who would be worried about their s**t burning in this kind of situation is the kind of person who would run an unkempt, unsafe space. So shocked that you are mad about your s**t burning".
Sadie McFarlane wrote: "Let me add my name to the list of those who think you deserve to die in the same manner as those who had their lives brutally snuffed out by your lack of concern. You horrible, horrible person."
A family friend complained to Child Protective Services about the Almena children's safety, and the children were sent to live with relatives for about 6 months. But Almena and Micah regained custody of them.
Micah and the children were staying at a hotel during the rave party.
Hanna Henriikka Ruax (left) and Alex Ghassan (right) are among the missing.
Oakland resident May Dolan told the Daily Mail UK tabloid that her sister, Chelsea Faith, was performing on the 1st floor when the fire started on the second floor.
Dolan still doesn't know if her sister is among the bodies still trapped in the debris.
A previous version of this post was edited to update the rising death toll.