Up to 40 people were feared dead in a huge fire that tore through a rave party in a warehouse near San Francisco, as authorities warned Saturday of a prolonged search and recovery effort.
The building in Oakland lacked permits for people to live and work as a group of artists did, and for the party to take place, officials said, adding that it also had no smoke detectors or sprinklers.
The interim chief of Oakland's Planning Department, Darin Ranelletti, said the city had recently received complaints against the building for debris and trash placed in adjacent vacant lots, and illegal construction inside the building.
Firefighters at the scene had to pull out of the building to shore it up when part of the fragile structure and some of the walls began to move. The roof eventually collapsed.
Nine bodies have been recovered so far.
Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's department told an evening news conference that about two dozen people who were reported missing had been located.
But at least two dozen more remain missing, he said.
“We don't know how far into the process we are, because we don't absolutely have a number of people that we know are deceased inside of there,” he said. (AFP)