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Oakland Rave Fire Criminal Probe Opens as Death Toll Rises to 36

Search for more victims temporarily suspended due to concerns that warehouse wall could collapse

The Oakland rave fire that occurred on Saturday has officially claimed the lives of 36 people, and investigators are starting to look into who is to blame.

Authorities announced Monday that upon further search of the building, they found almost four times more bodies than the nine that were initially discovered over the weekend, per NPR. They also said they expect to find more bodies before the search is over.

The search was called off around midnight local time on Sunday after firefighters noticed that one wall appeared to be in danger of collapsing. Oakland fire chief Teresa Deloach Reed estimates that 70 percent of the building has been searched.

Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, told the Los Angeles Times that the district attorney’s office has sent criminal investigators to work with the sheriff’s arson task force and the Oakland Police Department to determine what started the blaze. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also assisting in the investigation.

“When you have the amount of victims that we have, you don’t rule anything out,” Kelly said. “People want answers. People want to know that the investigation into this fire is very thorough.”

The call about the fire in the Fruitvale neighborhood came in at around 11:30 p.m, reported the New York Times. The party at 1305 31st Avenue had started at 9 p.m., and at least 100 people were in the building when the fire started, Reed said. Most of the deceased were on the second floor because there was only one way down on a stairway made of pallets, according to CNN.

People have been using the Facebook page to post the names of the people, including the names of artists and performers, they believe attended the warehouse party in hopes that it will aid authorities.

“It must have been a very fast-moving fire,” Reed told reporters Saturday morning. She added that the building “was kind of like an artist studio” that had partitions to break up where the artists worked.

CNN reported that firefighters have not been able to search the entire building, given that they first have to remove the debris and make sure the building is safe for entry.