Officials say up to 40 may have perished in fire at Oakland warehouse

World Today

This photo taken from video provided by @Oaklandfirelive shows the scene of a fire in Oakland, early Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. The blaze began at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday during a party at a warehouse in the San Francisco Bay Area city. Several people were unaccounted for. Oakland Fire Department posted several messages throughout the night on its Twitter social media network account, including the latest one in the morning saying that fire crews would remain on the scene for several more hours to extinguish hot spots(@Oaklandfirelive via AP)

Authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area said they are prepared to deal with up to 40 deaths after a fire broke out at a warehouse party in Oakland, California.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Saturday that nine people are confirmed dead, and that he expects that number to rise.

Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed said some people escaped and that between 50 and 100 people were at the warehouse at the time of the fire.

The warehouse had been partitioned into several artist studios and was packed with furniture, mannequins, lamps, and other objects. Deloche-Reed says the building didn’t have a clear exit path and that the only way out of the second floor was a makeshift stairwell made of pallets.

Fire officials said the building was not equipped with sprinklers.

Kelly says firefighters are still extinguishing hotspots from the blaze that sparked around 11:30 p.m. Friday. The cause is unclear. The fire tore through the building during an event featuring musician Golden Donna’s 100% Silk West Coast tour, the East Bay Times reports.

Oakland firefighters tweeted video of flames pushing through the roof.

“It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there,” Bob Mule, a photographer and artist who lives at the building and suffered minor burns, told the East Bay Times. “I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work.”

People used a Facebook page Saturday to post and seek information on family and friends who may have been in the building.

Oakland police urged those concerned about missing people to call the Alameda County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau at 510-382-3000.

The office said the coroners were also at the scene Saturday morning and unavailable for comment.