Criminal charges filed against 2 men in fatal Oakland warehouse fire

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) -- The Alameda County District Attorney said on Monday that prosecutors have filed felony criminal charges stemming from the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire last year in which 36 people died. Many of the victims were part of the Bay Area's underground dance music scene and were attending a late-night dance party. 

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced that her office has filed 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter charges against Derick Almena and Max Ohr, who also goes by the name of Max Harris. She said Almena was arrested in Lake County and Ohr was arrested in Los Angeles. Almena was booked into Santa Rita Jail at 7 p.m., according to Alameda County Sheriff's Office. 

"We continue to mourn the loss of 36 young and vibrant men and women . . . who should be with us today," O’Malley said. "Defendants Almena and Harris knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape, filled it with human beings, and are now facing the consequences of their deadly actions."

Almena was reportedly the master tenant of the collective and Harris had lived in the Ghost Ship warehouse since 2014, according to the East Bay Times. He had told the East Bay Times that he was the "second in command" at the collective and had been working the door the night of the fire.

Almena's attorneys Tony Serra, Kyndra Miller, and Jeffrey Krasnoff issued a statement that said 'We intend to vigorously defend him in the court of the law. We believe these charges represent no less than a miscarriage of justice, and we are confident that this attempt to make a scapegoat out of our client will fail."

The absentee landlords of the building, the Ng family, had also been under a cloud of suspicion during the investigation because of the illegal permitting of the building. However, KTVU sources did not mention the Ngs while discussing the charges.

The fire broke out at the two-story warehouse, located at 1305 31st Ave., around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2 during an underground warehouse party. Officials say 36 people perished in the blaze at the warehouse, which was being used by several people as a live/work space.

At least one civil lawsuit has been filed in connection with the case.

Relatives of a young woman who was killed filed the civil lawsuit against the city of Oakland, alleging that negligence on the part of the city caused the deaths. Alameda County has also been named in the suit.

The suit was filed on behalf of relatives of Michela Gregory, 20, who was found embracing her boyfriend, Alex Vega, 22. Relatives have said the two, who worked the nightshift at Duggan's Serra Mortuary in Daly City, had been dating for five years. Michela was a student at San Francisco State.