Warehouse fire: What we know about the victims
OAKLAND (CNN) – A budding musician. A truck-lover and bowling alley denizen. A singer whose adoring fans called him Nex Luguolo. A 17-year-old choir singer.
These are among the 36 people who lost their lives Friday night in a fire at an Oakland, California, warehouse where an electronic dance party was being held.
It is already being called one of the city’s deadliest blazes.
Authorities said they have positively or tentatively identified 33 victims, but not all their names have been released.
Here’s what we know so far about the victims:
Askew, a 22-year-old musician who lived in Oakland, played in the band Them Are Us Too. Dais Records, based in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, released the band’s debut album, “Remain,” in 2015.
The label issued a statement about Askew, calling her “one of the most talented and loving people we’ve ever known.”
“We will never be the same. Completely devastated by the loss of Cash Askew,” the statement reads. “Please keep her and her family in your thoughts, along with all those lost in the Oakland tragedy.”
Cline, 35, lived in Oakland at the time of his death but was originally from Santa Monica.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau confirmed his death in a statement.
Cline’s brother, Neil Cline, wrote on Facebook, “We just received word that my brother David Cline passed away in the Oakland Fire. To all of you, thank you. Thank you for your kindness, help and love. To David, we love you. You will be with us always.”
Gomez-Hall, 25, lived in Coronado and worked at the Berkeley-based publishing house Counterpoint Press, where colleagues called him “an extraordinary co-worker and a true friend.”
The company released a statement on Gomez-Hall’s death on its Facebook page:
“Counterpoint is devastated over the loss of our co-worker and dear friend Nick Gomez-Hall due to the Oakland Ghost Ship fire,” it reads. “From the second Nick started at Counterpoint, he became part of our family. Whether he was recommending new music to listen to (and it was always so good), regaling us with tales of the bowling alley, offering his beloved truck for a ride if anyone needed it, or sharing his much appreciated opinions about a book jacket or manuscript, he made everyone feel like they were his friend. He was kind, considerate, hilarious. … In short, he was an essential part of our team.
Hoda, 30, was an elementary school teacher at Urban Montessori in Oakland.
Carol Crewdson posted on Facebook about her former roommate’s love of children and her compassion.
“Sara was a principled person, she was compassionate, decent, and honorable. She didn’t do drugs and she wasn’t a drinker. She was a teacher and a gardener, working at a Montessori school. She was a good hardworking person, she loved children and the Earth, and she put those principles into actions,” Crewdson wrote. “She didn’t deserve to go like that. After reading an account of what it was like to get out of there, all I can hope is that it happened quickly.”
Crewdson knew her friend was attending the party and wrote that her truck was found parked outside the venue. She kept hoping if she posted on Facebook about Hoda she would learn she survived.
“I’m sorry loves, but it looks like she went with the flames. I’ll keep you posted on what happens next,” Crewdson wrote.” I’m feeling pretty beat up about it … Sara was a good person. She deserves to be remembered.”
Kellogg, 32, went to the art show probably to blow off a little steam after hitting the books at the end of her school term, her friend Josh Howes said.
Howes got a text message from Kellogg’s stepfather that she didn’t make it out.
Howes spoke to her on the phone a week ago, and had seen her a week before that. Kellogg loved house shows, and the underground open art space would have been something she would have enjoyed, Howes said.
Kellogg’s mother, Susan Slocum, told People.com she was numb after learning about her daughter’s death. Kellogg and several friends attended the event, her mother told People.com.
“She was there to dance,” Slocum said. “We found out she was on the second floor dancing with her friends. They were the first bodies they were able to find.”
“She was full of life,” Slocum said.
“She wanted to be a nutrition consultant and maybe do it in the prison system to help people,” Slocum told People.com. “Or work at a homeless shelter.”
McGill, 17, sang in the Pacific Boys’ Choir and was the youngest victim of the fire.
“It is both painful and poignant that the victims’ lives were lost while seeking community and connection through a shared love of art and creative expression,” San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Myong Leigh wrote in a letter to teachers, identifying McGill as a victim. “We mourn especially deeply for our student, the fire’s youngest victim, and with and for his family.”
McGill’s former teacher, Rachel Cohn, posted on Facebook.
“I am remembering clearer than ever his laugh, and his intense eyes in class — always tuned in, seeking, curious, craving more,” Cohn wrote. “Honoring Draven in my thoughts and prayers.”
McGill was an 11th grade student at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.
His friend and choirmate Julian Gandhi wrote that McGill’s death was devastating.
“A friend of mine from the choir, Draven McGill has passed away in the Oakland fire. It is a hard loss to me and many other people in the PBA community. I send my prayers to his family and friends. To a lot of you, this year has been a rough one. But the good thing is that we have each other and that’s what matters. Rest In Peace Draven.”
Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye
Tanouye, 31, was remembered by colleagues at Shazam, the music app maker.
“The Shazam family is mourning the loss of our amazing Kiyomi Tanouye in the #OaklandFire,” the company tweeted. “We love you and will never forget you Kiyomi.”
Longtime friend Lara Fowler went to Mills College with Tanouye, although she had not seen the Oakland resident in a while.
“She had friends from all different walks off life. She was completely nonjudgmental and loving to everyone she met,” Fowler recalled. Tanouye was a creative artist who marched to her own beat, she said.
“She had all these great hairstyles, constantly reinventing her hair, had artsy clothes,” said Fowler. “She worked at this quirky little magazine store called Issues, so I’d go in and ask if she was working. She couldn’t be pigeonholed; she was her own person always.”
Brandon Chase Wittenauer
Wittenauer, 32, was a prolific musician who went by the stage name Nex Luguolo. The Hayward, California, resident was known to friends as Chase, and was part of a musical duo called Symbiotix.Fungi. He was the band’s lead vocalist, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Wittenauer lived in Nicaragua for a time as a child, according to his Facebook page. After the fire, Wittenauer’s car was still parked outside the warehouse. His father posted a picture of it on his Facebook page, writing, “Please don’t let it be true.”
His friends share memories of the singer on Facebook.
“I woke up to this beautiful picture Saturday morning, no clue that disaster was around the corner. Just before opening Facebook the news feed on my cell was that of the Oakland fire, never ever putting the two together. And now here we are torn to pieces unable to fix it. Life can be so cruel. I feel selfish to say I want him back, i want this not to be true. I want to be back on California. I hate all this pain. Life is just not fair. I love you Chase! Your Tia!,” friend Enid Dais wrote.
Another friend, Amanda Fish, wrote: “I love you so much Chase! You are the most kindhearted, likeable, and artistic person anyone that knows you has ever met. I am so lucky to know you and that you know me. I love you Chase! I cannot say that enough.”
Many more victims
The fire also claimed the life of Travis Hough, 35, of Oakland. CNN is pursuing additional information on the other victims.