The question is rarely whether a person intentionally ignited a fire, but whether they were reckless about the risks to the victims.
That’s the case with Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse fire, which engulfed an unsanctioned music event and killed 36 people Dec. 2. After months of investigation, prosecutors concluded that the head of the artist collective that illegally occupied the warehouse, as well as his sidekick, committed crimes by providing the backdrop for the blaze — a party on the second floor of a building that was powered by a tangle of electrical cords and had only one exit stairwell.
Derick Almena, 47, and Max Harris, 27, were arrested Monday and charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, charges that weren’t a surprise to some legal observers.
The Ghost Ship charges, though, are no slam dunk, legal experts said. Without an identified cause of the blaze, prosecutors might face challenges in proving their case.
Family members of the fire victims have praised District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s decision to file charges, but least one former Ghost Ship resident is troubled with the prosecution. Naturally.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle