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Oakland warehouse fire possibly caused by appliances, officials say

By Andrew V. Pestano
Oakland warehouse fire possibly caused by appliances, officials say
Firefighters and Alameda County Coroner officials outside the scene of a fatal fire in a warehouse during a party in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday where 36 people died. Officials said appliances were likely the source of the fire but stressed that a final determination has not been reached. Photo by Khaled Sayed/UPI | License Photo

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Authorities investigating the Oakland warehouse fire said appliances, possibly a refrigerator, may have ignited the fire that killed 36 people.

Jill Snyder, the head of San Francisco's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office, on Tuesday said that although a final determination had not been reached, a refrigerator was a potential source of the blaze.

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Snyder said authorities "have no indication" the fire was set intentionally. Up to 100 people are believed to have been inside during 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.

People who lived at the warehouse described electrical hookups as dangerous. Fire officials said the manner in which the warehouse was being used made the building ideal for ignition.

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern told The San Francisco Chronicle the fire apparently started in the rear part of the building where several appliances were housed. He said officials have been working cautiously removing debris so as not to disturb evidence that might indicate how the fire started.

"On that back wall, there was a 45-degree angle burn, and they need to look at that area very carefully," Ahern said, "and in that area is a toaster, a small refrigerator, and slightly larger refrigerator, small and about four feet high, like one from the 1950s ... We're not saying a refrigerator is the cause, we're just saying that's the area where the ATF is looking."

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