Residents warned that the electrical system was overloaded as recently as two months before the fatal fire.
Owners of the building that housed Oakland’s Ghost Ship artist cooperative were made aware of electrical issues years before a fire there claimed 36 lives last December.
Emails obtained by The Mercury News have revealed that residents repeatedly tried to raise concerns about the former warehouse’s dangerous electrical problems.
Derick Almena, who acted as a landlord for the warehouse space, warned Kai Ng, son of building owner Chor Ng, in an email in 2015 that the electrical supply was “ancient and violated lines of distribution” and “in dire need of a total and immediate upgrade.”
Kai responded days later: “The lack of electrical infrastructure was made very clear before your lease began.”
Residents continued to report problems with the building’s electrical system as recently as two months before the deadly fire in December 2016. One occupant, Max Harris, emailed Kai and his sister Eva Ng, who act as property managers for their mother, to warn about “overexertion” to the warehouse’s power supply.
“Kai Ng totally sidestepped my expression of needing stability,” Harris told The Mercury News. “I said it was terminal and was getting worse, and he just asked for more money.”
In December, families of two victims of the fire filed a lawsuit against a number of defendants including Chor Ng and Almena.
A legal analyst told The Mercury News that the recently uncovered emails could strengthen the case for an involuntary manslaughter charge against the owners.
Earlier this year, 100% Silk released memorial editions of tapes by Cherushii and Nackt, two of the Oakland artists who died in the fire.