Officials prepared for 40 deaths in California nightclub fire – Sheriff



A local Sheriff has said that officials are prepared to deal with up to 40 deaths in Oakland, California after a nightclub fire.

At least nine people have been confirmed dead in the blaze that broke out during a party in a converted warehouse late Friday night.

Oakland fire chief Teresa Deloach-Reed said at least another 25 people are unaccounted for in the California fire.

The fire started at 23:30 local time on Friday (07:30 GMT Saturday) in Oakland, police told the BBC.

The venue was hosting a concert by electronic group Golden Donna. The event’s Facebook page indicates a number of people are missing.

Authorities told the local KTVU network about 50 people were inside the venue.

The total death toll remains unknown, but the Alameda County sheriff’s office said the coroner had prepared for more than 40 bodies.

The building housed artists in studios, it said. It did not appear to be a formal concert venue. Ms Deloach-Reed told reporters that the only exit from the second floor was a staircase made from wooden pallets.

She said firefighters did not hear smoke alarms when they arrived at the scene.

The power to the building has now been switched off and a structural engineer has given the fire department the go-ahead to enter the building, Ms Deloach-Reed said. Specialist rescue teams were on site, she added.

One of the artists who lived in the building, photographer Bob Mule, told the East Bay Times he tried but failed to help a friend get out.

“I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke,” he said. “I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work.”

Ms Deloach-Reed told the newspaper the building had no sprinkler system.

Videos posted on social media by the fire department showed a large fire burning through the roof of the building. Three fire engines were called out.

The event’s Facebook page said the event, that featured seven acts, was to be held in a secret location in the east of Oakland, that was announced only on the day it was held.