I was woken up on Saturday morning by a colleague and told there was a big fire, get down to it. This building is just down the road from where I live. I've driven by it 100 times and never noticed it. But when I got here, the fire was out, but it was clearly a disaster.
You could see the smoke of the scorch marks on it. You can see bits of art outside, and the fire chief was outside saying dozens were missing. It turned out to be the biggest fire that Oakland has had. It was over the following days that we started to hear about just what it was like inside, people who were in it had described this fire just erupting.
I spoke to one man who does a lot of refitting of old warehouses in to artists spaces and he said that he got inside and it was beautiful. It was made by artist. He could tell the care that was put into it. At the same time, there were these corridors that had no exit signs.
There was this staircase that was narrow that had a bathroom on the landing that would clog up with people just at the wrong time. But it was filled with wood, lot's of tinder ready to go whoosh. Straight up. This fire has brought a national light onto questions of higher ranks of gentrification.
Studies throughout the United States are looking to see if they've got warehouses filled with artists or other people that are safe.