Oakland Remembers Victims of Ghost Ship Fire With Tribute One Year After Deadly Blaze
Thirty-six people died on Dec. 2, 2016 after a fire broke out at an artsy lft in Oakland, California, called the Ghost Ship
It has been nearly a year since 36 people were killed in a deadly blaze in an Oakland, California, warehouse, which was home to local artists. Now, the city is honoring the victims with a special tribute.
Artists Chris Treggiari and Peter Foucault, who lost friends in the Dec. 2 fire, designed an altar in city hall for the victims, Justin Berton, a spokesman for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tells PEOPLE.
“In observance of the Ghost Ship fire tragedy one year later, there will be a temporary altar placed in City Hall from Monday, November  through Saturday, December 2, where handwritten notes and remembrances can be left,” Berton says.
On Tuesday, Berton adds, the names of the victims will be read aloud at city hall. After the week is over, all “remembrances” left at the altar will be added to an installation at the Oakland Museum of California, Berton says. The tribute comes just months after city officials declared Dec. 2 “Ghost Ship Remembrance Day” in Oakland.
Mary Alexander, a lawyer for 12 families of the 36 victims, says her clients have taken legal action against the city, the electric company that serviced the warehouse and the building’s owner.
“The anniversary is very emotional for them,” Alexander says. “The whole year has been very difficult but particularly the anniversary is bringing back those terrible memories of finding out that their child was killed in such a terrible, traumatic way.”
The fire broke out during a rave at the warehouse and police spent days searching for missing partygoers who would later be found dead.
Approximately 100 people attended the event, which featured a performance from Madison, Wisconsin-based electronic act Golden Donna. A Facebook page for the party at the time noted that attendees could get their hair and nails done at a “secret East Oakland location,” which was announced the day of the show.
A cause for the fire has not been determined.
In June, Derick Almena —the owner of the Ghost Ship — and Max Harris, who served as the Ghost Ship’s creative director, were arrested and charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, Assistant District Attorney. Teresa Drenick tells PEOPLE.
Both Almena, 47, and Harris, 27, are expected to appear in court on Dec. 4.
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The Ghost Ship — a DIY venue —operated inside a warehouse building that was reportedly used by artists as studios and living spaces.
“Habitability” complaints had been made about the building to owner of the entire warehouse space — not Almena, who only owns the loft — with one complaint filed in the month before the fire, according to the East Bay Express.
Former employees initially pointed the finger at the owner, telling KGO that Almena laughed off warnings from police and fire officials about the building’s fire hazard.
However, in a recent jailhouse interview with KTVU, Almena said: “I’m innocent and I’m gonna be in here for two years. I know why I’m here. I understand why I’m here, but I shouldn’t be here.”
Almena said that while he bears some responsibility for the “massive loss of life,” others are to “blame” too.
“I’m a scapegoat,” he said.