By Barbara Falconer Newhall
I keep thinking, if only. If only those young people hadn’t decided to party. If only the makeshift stairways of the Ghost Ship had been closer to the exits. If only there had been fire escapes. If only Oakland’s building department had been aware of this warehouse-turned-artists-community and its building code violations.
If only 36 creative young people — artists, musicians, LGBTQ folks — could just please not be dead. But they are. They died in a fire last Friday that broke out during a dance party held at the converted warehouse.
That’s the trouble with death, of course. It’s irreversible. It happens and you’re gone. Or your dearest dearest is gone. And there’s no helping it.
Ghost Ship Vigil
Small comfort — no, a big one: people care. When I drove over to Oakland’s International Boulevard and the burnt-out Ghost Ship warehouse yesterday, the place was crowded with people who were making it their business to care. Police and firefighters. Federal investigators. City officials. The media. A chaplain in firefighter gear. People from the surrounding Hispanic and African American neighborhoods. Friends and strangers bearing flowers and teary love notes.
Hundreds of people were there. But 36 were not.