‘Ghost Ship’ warehouse defense alleges fire started in adjacent building

Audrey McNamara/File

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The defense team for Derick Almena, manager of the “Ghost Ship” warehouse, released a report Monday alleging that the deadly Dec. 2 Oakland fire started in an adjacent building.

The fire killed 36 people, including two UC Berkeley students and two campus alumni. The family of a UC Berkeley alumnus who died in the fire recently filed civil lawsuits against people associated with the warehouse, including Almena.

According to the East Bay Times, the report released by Almena’s defense team was authored by an unnamed investigator hired by the team. The report attempted to determine whether the fire was caused by inadequate utility wiring in the adjacent building, but not in Ghost Ship.

“The defense team for Derick Ion Almena has received a reliable scientific report … indicating that the origin of the fire was at the building adjacent to the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse,” said Almena’s attorneys, Jeffrey Krasnoff, Kyndra Miller and Tony Serra, in a statement preluding the report. “Such should reasonably foreclose any criminal negligence charges against Mr. Almena.”

Despite the report’s allegations, it acknowledged that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has not concluded its investigation on the origin of the fire.

Oakland city spokesperson Karen Boyd said the city is waiting for ATF and Oakland Fire Department’s reports on the investigation before making any conclusions on the cause and origin of the fire.

“It’s premature to speculate about the origin of the fire until all investigations are complete,” Boyd said in an email.

The same night the report was released, Micah Allison, Almena’s wife, apologized for the Oakland fire tragedy at a special Oakland City Council meeting.

“More than anything I wanted to say how sorry I am for what happened on Dec. 2, and I want to thank everyone here for everything that they’re doing,” Allison said at the meeting. “I wish that more had been done before.”

Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.