It was five years ago tonight that a fire broke out in a warehouse turned into an artists space in Oakland, California known as the Ghost Ship. The blaze which began during a show on the evening of December 2, 2016 claimed the lives of 36 people and traumatized a community. Some who survived suffered injuries that will cause them pain for the rest of their lives.
Some of the victims of the fire were living there. Some of them were going to a show held in the space — like most of us have gone to a show, and never really thought what would happen if we needed to get out quickly, but couldn’t.
It’s not the kind of thing we want to remember but it’s not the kind of thing we should forget about.
Among the 36 victims who died in the fire were Johnny Igaz, who DJ’d and produced music under the name Nackt, and Chelsea Dolan, aka Cherushii.
A year ago this month, 5 Mag profiled Jeremy Bispo and As You Like It, event promoters and then a label which was inspired by the friendship between Bispo and Igaz and shaped in part by the monumental loss following the fire:
Maria Minerva released her final collaboration with Cherushii, the Cherushii and Maria Minerva EP, posthumously. Dolan’s mother Colleen, a kindergarten teacher, was an outspoken advocate for the victims of the Ghost Fire during the subsequent trial which ended in a 10-2 deadlock by the jury. Defendent Derick Almena later pled guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Voices of Silicon Valley is holding a 5 year anniversary memorial tonight featuring the music of many Ghost Ship artists, livestreamed here:
Photo by Jim Heaphy. Cullen328 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons