“An Accident Waiting To Happen”

An Accident Waiting To Happen

After a deadly fire at a warehouse in Oakland, California this weekend, locals are stunned by the destruction and loss of life. Still, some aren’t exactly surprised. The warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship, was a communal work space for artists and musicians, often hosting art exhibits and bands. According to witnesses, the building was not equipped with fire sprinklers, extinguishers, or alarms. Additionally, it did not have strong staircases, and was littered with furniture, turning the warehouse into a difficult maze. In an article from the Los Angeles Times, one person described the warehouse as a “tinderbox” and an accident waiting to happen.

This weekend, the accident finally happened during a dance party at the warehouse. It’s still unclear how the fire started, but at least 36 people are dead. The death toll is still rising, making this the deadliest structure fire in Oakland’s history.

Fire Codes

Fire codes vary from state of state, but generally include guidelines on things like

  • Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers
  • Maximum occupancy
  • Limitations of locations and quantities of flammable materials, like gasoline or fireworks
  • Removal of any obstructions to emergency exits

To prevent a massive death toll during a fire, planning ahead is incredibly important. Having clear emergency exits is a vital part of an emergency plan. During a fire or other emergency, panic is unfortunately common; only having one main exit means that everyone will surge toward it, potentially crushing or trapping others. Designated emergency exists prevent this problem. Exits should be clearly accessible and visible.

Most importantly, an emergency plan should include telling everyone to stay calm during a fire.

Trust Your Instincts

The National Fire Prevention Association suggests that people take fire safety into their own hands. When you enter a building, you should:

  • Immediately locate emergency exits. There should be at least two exits. Remember, the front isn’t the only exit. Locate an exit closest to you. Look for any obstructions around the exits, like furniture.
  • Look around for any fire hazards, like unattended candles or stage pyrotechnics
  • See if there are fire prevention systems in place, like sprinklers

If you do not feel safe in a building, you should leave immediately. If a building is in violation of any safety codes, report your concerns to your local fire marshal.

Ideally, all buildings would cooperate with fire safety regulations. However, as the tragic Oakland fire shows us, this is not always the case. Educate yourself on fire safety, and always trust your instincts if an area feels unsafe.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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