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One Year Later, What’s Followed Ghost Ship? - By Imojadad - November 30, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

One Year Later, What’s Followed Ghost Ship?

Days of the Dead pays tribute to Oakland fire victims. (Photo courtesy of Oakland Museum of California)

On Dec. 2, 2016, a chorus of half-joking wishes for the tumultuous year to be over transformed into a somber plea when a blaze erupted in an Oakland warehouse, claiming 36 lives.

A year later, survivors are still recuperating and the art community — to which many of the victims belonged — continues to mourn lost friends. But the owner of the warehouse, Chor Ng, is set to collect at least $3.1 million in insurance — money that may run out civil claims against her by victims go to trial, East Bay Times reports.

No criminal charges have been brought against Ng, but warehouse master tenant Derick Almena and creative director Max Harris were charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in June. They pleaded “not guilty” in September.

Oakland could be liable for these deaths as well. Firefighters, building inspectors, and police visited the warehouse before the fire, some even entering the maze of extension cords and other fire hazards, according to records dug up by East Bay Times.

More than 20 people illegally lived in the warehouse illegally, speaking to the dangerous living conditions Bay Area residents may be forced into due to chronically unaffordable housing. But in the wake of 36 deaths, only one warehouse owner formally agreed to fix their building in order to legalize its living units.

As the courts deem who’s responsible for what, others have found ways to keep the memories of the victims alive. Memorials sprung up for Día de los Muertos, as songs and albums, in the shape of a ship surfing the Emeryville Harbor, and even a mural of the young couple who perished together went up in Clarion Alley while Oakland has its own of all victims.

Here are other places keeping the memory of those 36 souls alive as the anniversary approaches on Saturday.

Chapel of the Chimes,
Dec. 1-3, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland 
The cremation service is offering its historical landmark building as a place for the public to reflect this weekend. The meditation chapel will be open on Friday, Dec. 1 to Sunday, Dec. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meanwhile, candles will be lit at the Ghost Ship Fire Memorial Plaque outside the entrance to the Julia Morgan Chapel from 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1 to 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 4. Flowers, letters, photos and other memorial items are welcome.

Dance Club Moment of Silence,
Dec. 2, various locations

DJ Danny Delorean has called for a moment of silence at dance clubs on Saturday from 11 p.m. to midnight, and for it to become an annual tradition. So far, The Midway, Public Works, and Oakland’s Uptown are among those confirmed to pause the music and let the crowd know why. “Nothing draws more attention in a club than when the music stops for a brief period,” he wrote on Facebook.

Oakland City Hall,
through Dec. 2, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland

Treggiari and Foucault also designed a similar installation in the form of an altar, on display at Oakland City Hall until Saturday. Handwritten notes and items left at the exhibit will be added to Days of the Dead.

Oakland Museum of California,
through Jan. 14, 2018, 1000 Oak St., Oakland

As part of its Days of the Dead exhibition, the Oakland Museum of California has included a nod to the Ghost Ship fire. Chris Treggiari and Peter Foucault are honoring their fallen colleague Alex Ghassan and his fellow victims — plus four victims of the West Oakland fire in March — with a ship of their names.