The death toll in Friday’s fire at a California artist-collective warehouse known as the “Ghost Ship” has risen to 36. Meanwhile, investigators are trying to figure out if anyone should be held legally responsible for the tragedy.

From The Atlantic:

The warehouse in Oakland was the subject of many complaints. Last month city officials said they were alerted to illegal construction, but inspectors couldn’t gain access to the site. If they had, they would have seen pianos, couches, beds, wood and fabric partitions closing off artist workspaces, and a staircase made of pallets created by the two dozen people who shared the 10,000-square-foot site.

San Francisco and the greater Bay Area have the some of the highest rents in the country, with the average one-bedroom apartment in Oakland renting for $2,000 per month. That has forced some cities in the area to try and reconcile the rising property costs with the desire to keep a vibrant artistic community. In the meantime, some local artists have created live-and-work spaces inside lofts and warehouses, where a community can share the rent, often at the cost of cramped quarters. “These are people on the fringes of our economy who are just kind of getting by doing what they love and they do get overcrowded in these spaces that are not designed to be residential,” Diego Aguilar-Canabal, who had visited parties at the warehouse, told CNN. … The warehouse, which had no running water, plumbing, or sprinkler system, and has been described as a labyrinth of flammable materials, had numerous “habitability” complaints lodged against it; the city was investigating those claims. [Derick Ion Almena, who informally ran the collective,] was also criticized for an insensitive Facebook post he made after the fire. In it, he said: “Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound… it’s as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope… to be standing now in poverty of self worth.” There was no mention of the victims.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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