tv NBC Bay Area News at 6 NBC December 3, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
our coroner's bureau. the identification process has begun with those victims. we are rushing their fingers to identify them and then notify family members as we get those identifications. we are bringing in heavy equipment, and you will see heavy equipment coming in, we're bringing in a crane, dumpsters, excavators, like we talked about. that has to move very slowly. when we're pulling debris, we want to make sure there's not victims entrapped in that debris, we want to be respectful that way. as we continue on here tonight, there have been some good things that have happened. when i say that, we have been
able to locate some loved ones that have been alive. our family center has been huge in doing that. that being said, there are families in the unknown stage. they're grieving, and they remain at our family assistance center. we're asking people, the number that we put out, do not call that number unless you have pertinent information to the investigation. our phone lines are being overwhelmed with requests for media and other people throughout the world that are calling. so we ask that youi ieease up o calling those phone numbers unless you need to. we do not have at this time the ability to return every phone call. so if press is not here, we're
probably not going to be able to get back to you. unless you have an affiliate here or someone here at the scene, we're not going to be able to get back to you, we're not going to make all those calls. there's hundreds and hundreds of calls and we cannot possibly return those. we'll take some questions, not a lot, to update right now. we still remain in the building. now it's dark, it makes our work slow down quite a bit. we have to continue to worry about the engineering problems, the structural integrity. that is more difficult at night, because you can't see things you normally would see during the day. [ inaudible question ] i will say this, we've been saying at least two dozen people. once again, we don't want to get into some grand total number, because that causes unwarranted fears for people.
we have enough information from family members and stuff that we're trying to deal with the names that we have, and either acknowledge that someone has been found or not. and so we're kind of moving things into two categories, those people that we know that we've located and those people that are unaccounted for. >> reporter: how many people have you located thus far? >> we have located several dozen people that were believed to have been missing that are not missing anymore. we still have -- yes, we still have at least a couple of dozen outstanding people that need to be located. >> let's go to this gentleman first. >> reporter: the number nine has been given to us all day long, nine dead. and that you expect it to go up.
are these bodies that you have known about all along? >> so the nine bodies that we recovered, they were easily accessible. so those were bodies that we could get to rather quickly and remove. >> reporter: just to follow up, is that why we've been saying nine all day long? >> correct. and i think we have described in our previous press conferences the conditions inside that structure and how hard and challenging it is to work inside there. there's a lot of areas that we cannot get to that we need to cut away parts of the building and use excavation techniques, like we had talked about cutting holes in the side of the building. >> reporter: do you know how much progress you've made as a percentage? >> we have made -- you know, i feel we've made a lot of
progress in recovering the nine victims that we have, because that's going to provide closure or at least notifications to those families so they can begin to heal. we don't even know how far into the process we are, because we don't know how many people are deceased inside there. that will take quite a bit of time. that's why we've been trying to stay away from a number. because we really, truly don't know. >> reporter: until now, you've been getting those nine out? >> we knew the nine, the focus was the nine originally because they were readily accessible. we've accomplished that mission. now we need to go in deeper into the building. that's where the infrastructure problems are. [ inaudible question ] we're working on the outskirts of the building. we really haven't got into the
internal components of the building yet. >> hold on one second, sir. sergio, please. >> reporter: is that even going to be possible now that it's dark? you talked about the challenges in being able to make entry. >> we'll continue working through the night. we've brought in lights. we're going to flood this place with light as much as we can. but nighttime operations are going to slow us down a little bit. we have to move slowly here, and very judiciously in getting this done. >> reporter: have any more than the nine been seen? >> we know there are bodies that are in there that we can't get to, that have been seen but not recovered. [ inaudible question ] it's been widely known that a lot of the victims are in their 20s and young adults.
no minors that we know of at this time. >> reporter: is the focus solely on recovery now or is there also the investigation going on that you talked about? where does that stand? >> so as we do the recovery, we have to be mindful of the investigation that is to come. the second part of this. so we have to make sure that we preserve the debris and wreckage properly so that it can be looked at later. that's all being taken into account. >> reporter: the several dozen people that were missing that have been located, that's separate from the two dozen that are still missing? >> that is correct. [ inaudible question ] correct. and that may be -- it may be more than two dozen. we cannot give you a definitive number. one person being killed here is horrible, let alone nine and maybe possibly more.
>> reporter: you said earlier that some persons have been locat located. can you estimate how many? >> several dozen people that were thought missing here have been located and are alive. so that's the good news that we have to offer at this time. [ inaudible question ] no. it hasn't, unfortunately. we don't know how many people were inside when this happened. we're trying to get that. >> reporter: fingerprinting as a way of identification, does that mean we're talking about smoke inhalation as a cause of death? >> there's no way we can tell you about the cause of death at this point. it could be a number of things. there's a collapse in there, fire, smoke. there's a lot of reasons why people perished in this building. >> reporter: can you further identify who was not in the
building? >> yes. so the family assistance center that we set up, that was done very quickly at a moment's notice, where we had officers and fire personnel and city workers come and set up a family assistance center on the fly. that place has become a central location for family members to come. when they come there, we're able to speak with them, gain additional information. sometimes they come there thinking that they are missing a loved one. they end up making phone calls and through networking they find their loved one, they notify us, and then they leave. so there are still quite a lot of people at the family assistance center that still need answers. and that's what we're working on trying to do. [ inaudible question ] there's a lot of people at the family assistance center. there's a lot going on there. the red cross and other agencies that are working with us to
provide grief counseling and assistance to these families. it's a very difficult time. yes, sir. >> reporter: are some of these families looking for vick to some who may have been homeless or may have been occupants of this warehouse, not just attending the concert? >> i think there's families that are concerned that maybe if one of their family members at one time or another had a connection to this building, they're concerned. and if they haven't heard from that family member, then they're thinking the worst. we're trying to ease those fears by using the family assistance center, by answering those calls. [ inaudible question ] we are anticipating the next 46 hours we have slated for recovery. this area will remain closed for the next 48 hours. so absolutely, we will be here as long as it takes. >> reporter: the people that
will recover, are they all partygoers? do you have any information about who these people were? >> a lot of those those people have identified those on social media. the media may know more about those at this time. our efforts are focused on the family assistance center and on the recovery efforts here at the scene. we haven't had a chance to even get that far in this investigation where we've talked to people that were at this scene. >> ma'am, we'll get to you -- ma'am, hold on one second. [ inaudible question ] >> you're looking and listening live to a news conference from sergeant ray kelly from the alameda county sheriff's department, he's working under some tough circumstances, very difficult last night, throughout the day, and this evening. it's recap what sergeant kelly has said, some of the bullet points. he has confirmed nine bodies have been recovered, this is all new information within the last
several minutes. at least two dozen people are still unaccounted for. but he did pass along some good news, several families have been reunited with their loved ones, that's the good news, people have been reunited with those loved ones, but the numbers are still chilling, nine bodies have been recovered, at least two dozen, he didn't want to specify a number, because he doesn't know, but he says at least two dozen are still missing, and yes, many families have been reunited. he did say there are bodies inside that are visible to firefighters. but as of this point it's too dangerous to access this building. this building is behind me. this is an artists' enclave, a workshop for artists where artists lived inside this building. it's a warehouse on 31st and international in oakland. a lot of people said there was a lot of garbage outside and inside, conditions were subpar. other people said this was a beautiful area, a workshop for artists in this community, a diverse part of oakland of
course. we have a team of reporters here onsite with me, we have our investigative unit working on heny angles to the story. unere are many areas. let's start with nbc bay area's cheryl hurd. >> reporter: raj, there's a lot of heavy equipment here, lights are shining bright. periodically we hear chainsaws, trying to make two entry ways into the building. this is what the building looked like when the fire broke out about 11:30 last night. we also have pictures of what the warehouse looked like inside before the devastating fatal fire. it's a live/workspace, a space where people come to be creative. now we well know that this building is being investigated for various code violations. now, earlier today we caught up with a man who was concerned
about a mother and her three children. luckily, we found out later on that he found them. but he's also now concerned about another friend. >> i mean, it was a little scary, the steps, the lighting, the steps getting up to the second floor, and just the -- i mean, it was beautiful, but it was really, you know -- we see what happened. >> reporter: councilman noel gallo has been concerned and angry. we talked to him earlier today. he says this building has been on his radar for 3 1/2 years. he says businesses and people who live in this area and work in this area consider this building a nuisance. he says unfortunately people had to die in order for this area and this building to become a top priority. raj, back to you. >> okay, cheryl, very good information there. really what we're dealing with here, sergeant kelly told i say
a few minutes ago, this is a twofold operation, a recovery and investigation, which makes it very tricky for firefighters and fire crews to access this building. clearly most emotional part of the story is the families and friends waiting to hear if their loved ones made it out from that building okay. for that part of the story, let's bring in nbc bay area's rick boone, who joins us a few miles away at the family assistance center for families of the victims. >> reporter: raj, the emotional side is mainly anger for family members here. this is a place where families are supposed to get information about their loved ones. a lot of them are telling me off-camera that that's the only information they're getting. they say the officials are telling them to wait too long.
they're telling them they don't have any details that they want to know. these family members are just sitting around, waiting. a lot of anticipation, a lot of nerves, a lot of headache, don't know where to go, don't know where their loved ones are at this hour. >> i said, mom, where's my little brother? she said that he's not home and he's not answering his phone. neither is his friend. she's currently driving around, looking for him. and she was unable, you know, to find him anywhere, and that they went to go look for my brother's girlfriend's car which was still parked on the street near my brother's house. so that's when i obviously told my work i have to go. and here i am.
>> reporter: his brother is alexander vega, 22 years old. the girlfriend, michaela. still no sign of those two tonight. the family in this building behind me have gone home. some don't know what to do at this hour because they just feel totally lost. we'll give it on back to you. >> okay, rick, our thoughts and prayers are with these family and friends. we're seeing family and friends here too as they start gathering in this neighborhood. within the last two minutes we're noticing something pretty significant here. you can see on top of the building of that warehouse, crews are now on top of the roof. we haven't seen that in several hours. so what they've done is they've fortified the building enough where the crews can actually stand on the roof. down below, the fear was even the fire crews would fall through that roof. that is some significant progress. not only is this a recovery, but
it's an investigation. as sergeant ray kelly told us a few minutes ago, people around the world are calling the oakland fire department and police department and that family hotline wanting to know about their loved ones. this was a music party at this artists' enclave last night, a diverse group of people from around the world. we'll see you in a few minutes. >> raj, thank you very much. >> as frustrating and difficult and heartbreaking as it is for the families, it's difficult and complicated for the firefighters there. you don't want to give information unless they're positive, it's the worst information to have to give, rougho why they're so meticulous invmethodical about the information they're disseminating. the family who owns the building has several properties throughout the bay area. >> nbc bay area reporter liz
wagner is live with more. >> reporter: we spoke with the daughter and the son-in-law of the owner. the owner's name is chor ing. they live in this replenish aston neighborhood. they're overwhelmed, tired, and just trying to make sense of what happened last night into the morning. they didn't want to make any comments on camera but they did issue us a statement. the family says, "i'm sorry but we do not have any comment. we are also trying to figure out what's going on, just like everybody else. we're sorry to hear about the trend. our condolences go out to those injured and those who lost their lives." they say right now they're very concerned about making any statements on the record. nbc bay area has been reporting all day, oakland city officials say they know about this warehouse, it's a problem warehouse. listen to what city councilman noel gallo had to say.
>> it's an activity that has not been permitted. there is no fire inspections that have been provided to this building, not only on this part, that part, especially his. all these apartments are illegally here. they're not permitted by either the fire department, the building inspectors. >> reporter: also at issue, the staircase inside the warehouse. multiple sources say the single stairway was made out of wooden pallets, very uneasy, unstable wooden pallets. the family does want to set the record straight about that stairway. they say it is not made of wooden pallets. they say it's sturdy and permitted. they say if another stairway was y==structed, they didn't know this it. that's the latest here in pleasanton. in liz wagner. we'll send it back to you. >> thank you very much, liz, lots of good information. we're not done covering this breaking news, perhaps the
deadliest fire in the last 25 years in oakland. we are updating our digital platforms with all the latest information and photos. you can check out our twitter feed or sign up for breaking news alerts on nbcbayarea.com to find out what the latest is happening with those yet to be determined people inside. i'm laura malpert live from in front of the warehouse. i've talked to people who have been inside the building. i'll tell you what they have to say and why they're not surprised a tragedy happened here. ==2 shot==
this story is making headlines across the country. i'm raj mathai once again anchoring coverage here from this devastating fire, according to the oakland fire chief, the worst thing she's seen in oakland in 30 years, a tragedy for everyone who has friends and loved ones here. within the last few minutes a front loader has gone in, essentially taking debris from the first floor and hauling it away. we believe, according to sergeant ray kelly, there could be up to 25 bodies burned inside that warehouse. we're joined now by serena elson, a neighbor of this warehouse, and who also has
neighbors in the warehouse. i'm sorry about what you're going through. do you know any information about anyone inside? >> no, i don't have any updates. we're waiting for names to be released. >> you know some of the artists and musician s personally? >> these are all beautiful, creative people. they work in the art world. that can mean anything from painting to tattoo artist to somebody who does graffiti, murals, things like that. it's -- yeah, people like that don't make a lot of money. and they have to live kind of an alternative situations with a bunch of people in one space to make it work. >> we've heard a lot about just the conditions and maybe some of the drug use inside. is that an unfair description so far, from the early accounts? >> yeah, i think kind of laugh at that. i think when people look at
somebody who doesn't -- doesn't look like them, they're just going to assume that they use drugs. that is just really frustrating. >> i'll let you go back, i'm sorry to see what you're going through, good luck with your friends and family inside. serena elson, one of the artists that lives nearby. also in warehouse type situations, this is a big community for artists and musicians here. that's what was happening inside, a music party inside this artists' colony. guys, we'll send it back to you. >> thank you very much, raj. >> it's not just in oakland, in other parts of the country as well. in southern california, the record label of the artist perfect last night spoke to kate l larsen. >> reporter: jessica and garvin, they're waiting to find out more informations from their friends in oakland, many of them inside
that warehouse when the fire broke out. i have spoken to one of the artists on 100% silk, an electronic music label based here, they're devastated, concerned about their friends and colleagues who were in oakland last night in that warehouse. we've seen aerials of the warehouse fire, it's easy to see why it's been difficult for investigators to get inside and identify the people who died in the fire. and people right now from all over the world are searching for their loved ones on social media who may have been inside that warehouse during the fire. we have a facebook page that was initially used to promote the concert last night. now it's being used to post photos of the missing and condolence messages. i spoke with brian foote, an artist, he's concerned about his
colleagues. we spoke to one of the owners of 100% silk, brit brown. he says, "several of the people were intimate friend of ours who we loved on a personal and creative level. this is beyond a nightmare, it is so unthinkable." golden donna, one of the headliners at last night's concert, his legal name is joel shanahan, he survived. we've been told by brit and brian that he's actually been at the sheriff's department with the parents of one of the other music artists who were performing last night who was one those people unaccounted for. all over southern california right now, the electronic music world is concerned, mourning, and are hoping for good news right now. that's the latest here live in los angeles, i'm kate larsen, we'll send it back to you. >> lots of interesting information there about that company and the people associated with that company, that may still be missing at this point as well. we're back in a moment with more.