Former Mendocino Man Center of Controversy Over Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland
As a community grieving the loss of at least 36 people who perished in the massive warehouse fire this weekend in Oakland searches for someone or something to blame, they have begun to focus on a 47-year-old man Derick Ion Almena. Almena managed the 10,000 square foot artist colony known as the Ghost Ship where the fire ignited during a party. According to his father-in-law, Almena lived for a time in Mendocino growing marijuana.
Several news media are reporting that murder charges could be filed. A Salinas based tv news show, KSBW, reported on the fire and it’s aftermath last night. They stated,
Survivors recounted having to struggle to escape the burning warehouse, where many of the victims were on a makeshift second floor served by a rickety staircase of wooden pallets. Visitors described the structure as a warren of scrap wood, sofas, old pianos and electrical cables, with only two exits.
Investigators have declined to say whether they believe whether Almena or the building’s owner bear any responsibility for the blaze.
Oakland building inspectors had opened an investigation into the warehouse last month. Acquaintances and local authorities described repeatedly confronting Almena about what they saw as unsafe and unsanitary conditions for his children and others living there.