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:

“I considered him my best friend because he was one of the few people that was able to challenge me in that way, and the intimacy and the connection that we had. Really he challenged me to this idea of starting a label… And I said, ‘you know what, we’ll do this’. And he’s like, ‘I need a commitment from you.’ I told him, ‘You can’t move to Berlin, you have to stay and do this with me, and we have to do this. You’re going to become a resident. We’re going to throw this party in LA for you (for his upcoming release on Night Owl)…’ And then the Ghost Ship fire happened. And Johnny died in the fire. Alongside Chelsea, who was integral to the foundation of this idea of releasing her music… I didn’t know that I’d still be able to come through it, the other side, holding on to this idea that he planted.”


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

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