Mourners heckle Oakland mayor at vigil for fire victims

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Dec. 6, 2016 at 8:04 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people held a mass candlelight vigil, which turned to an outcry against the city's mayor, in Oakland to mourn the victims of a deadly warehouse fire.

The vigil was held Monday on the shores of Oakland's Lake Merritt. People held lit cellphones, plastic candles, glow sticks and other sources of light -- mostly avoiding lighting candles in a show of deference to the fire victims, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

At least 36 people were killed in Friday's fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse, where a party was underway on the second floor of an unlicensed space for artists' studios and residences.

"We took a devastating hit and all we want to do is honor those people and not put any blame on anybody," an Oakland resident who said he lost five friends in the fire told the San Francisco Chronicle.

A microphone connected to speakers amplified the speeches of tearful mourners who discussed their loss. Oakland officials offered encouraging words.

But when Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf took the mic, she was greeted with boos, obscenities and calls for her to resign.

Schaaf has been criticized by some for emphasizing the warehouse's code violations after the fire instead of addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the city.

"It's OK. This city is going to go through a lot of emotions and one of them is going to be anger," Schaaf said. "It's my job to hear that and feel that."

Firefighters said they believe the fire began underneath the second-floor dance area. Officials expect the death toll to rise.

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