OAKLAND, United States, Dec 5, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 05th Dec, 2016 ) - The death toll from a fire at a California warehouse where a rave party had been taking place rose to 30 on Sunday, as authorities were able to access more of the gutted, unstable building. "We have confirmed that the count of the deceased at 30. That is an astronomical number," Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department told reporters. Authorities had only searched a small part of the two-story building destroyed by the inferno late Friday night.
"We are still not done... they are working and pulling this building apart and dissecting it. And so we're really starting to get deeper into the building. As we do that, we continue to find more victims," Kelly said. Authorities have said they fear the death toll could climb to 40 as they sift through the rubble of the converted warehouse in the city of Oakland, located near San Francisco. Kelly earlier said that only about 20 percent of the building had been searched.
Artists and students had been living and working in the cluttered warehouse, even though the site was not licensed for such use. The electronic dance music party, which had between 50 and 100 guests, also took place without proper permits. The cause of the blaze was still under investigation. Authorities on Sunday asked relatives of the missing to "eliminate future delays" in identifying the victims and preserve items like hairbrushes and toothbrushes for DNA samples.
"We will ask for them as we need them," said Captain Melanie Ditzenberger of the sheriff's department coroner's bureau. Kelly said only three victims' families have received confirmed death notices because of difficulties identifying the charred remains. Firefighters worked for 12 hours by night to enter the building, eventually breaching a wall to clear their way into the warehouse, said Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton.