At least nine people have died after a fire broke out during a party in Oakland, local media have reported. The warehouse where the party was being held had no proper fire extinguishing system, according to officials.
The fire started at 23:30 local time on Friday, according to local media reports. Rescue teams and firefighting units were looking for at least 15 missing people in the wreckage mid-Saturday, with officials saying the death toll may rise to at least 40.
According to the KTVU-TV network, the building where the concert was being held was apparently not a formal concert venue and housed loft units where people lived and worked. The city of Oakland has opened an official investigation, but officials have said the ruined building is not currently being treated as a crime scene.
"The Mercury News" of San Jose cited fire officials as saying that around 70 people were at electronic music act Golden Donna's 100% Silk West Coast tour event. A Facebook event page showed that 176 people planned to attend the party.
Videos posted on social media show a large fire coming through the roof of the building.
Search for victims still ongoing
Authorities were trying to determine how the fire started, said fire official Teresa Deloach-Reed.
"There is a large majority of that building that has not been searched," she said during a press briefing.
"We are hoping that the number nine is what there is and that there are no more," she said, referring to the victims. She said rescue teams had yet to do a complete search of the building, which she described as "huge."
On Twitter, California Governor Jerry Brown offered his sympathies as the news broke, saying "our thoughts are with the entire city in this difficult time."
shs, es/rc (AFP, Reuters)