The Latest: Mayor 'disturbed' by newly disclosed emails

AP News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2017 9:50 PM
The Latest: Mayor 'disturbed' by newly disclosed emails

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a building fire in Oakland that killed four people (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says she found emails from fire officials warning of dangerous conditions in a building that burned this week to be "extremely disturbing."

Schaaf said she had not known until recently of emails dating back to early January in which fire officials repeatedly warn the building lacked fire extinguishers, working alarms and exits.

A fire captain recommended in a Jan. 8 email that they consider shutting down the building immediately. Monday's fire killed four people and displaced dozens of low-income residents.

Schaaf said earlier this week that new streamlined communications she put in place after a devastating December fire to keep problem buildings from slipping through the cracks seem to have improved and worked in this case.

But on Friday, after the emails were released by the city, she said the city needed to continue learning and improving its systems.

She also said she was "disgusted" with the building's landlord.

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6:15 p.m.

The sister of a man who died in an Oakland apartment fire this week says she blames the building's owner for the deplorable, dangerous living conditions.

Aurea Lewis also helps run the nonprofit organization that sublet units to low-income residents in the building that burned Monday. Her brother, 64-year-old Ed Anderson, and three others died Monday.

Records show the building was the subject of numerous building and fire code violations in the past few years. Lewis says she and her partner at Urojas Community Services called on owner Keith Kim to make the needed improvements.

Instead, Lewis says Kim filed eviction papers alleging Urojas owed thousands of dollars in past-due rent.

Eviction proceedings were still underway when the building caught fire Monday.

Kim did not return phone calls Friday.

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3:45 p.m.

Records show an Oakland fire captain recommended in January that a building that burned and killed four people this week should be shuttered immediately due to life-threatening hazards.

The emails released Friday by the city show Fire Department officials opted to take less drastic measures.

In an email dated Jan. 8, Captain Richard Chew reported that a fire alarm had been pulled and not reset at the three-story residential building, there were open piles of garbage and the fire escape door was padlocked.

Battalion Chief Geoff Hunter ordered other officials to contact the building owner to address the problems. Acting Assistant Fire Marshal Maria Sabatini said the owner should have 30 days to make repairs.

The city of Oakland also announcement that Mayor Libby Schaaf was ordering an overhaul of fire safety inspections in the city.

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12:05 a.m.

A burning candle started a building fire that killed four people and displaced dozens more in Oakland, city officials said.

The disclosure ruled out arson as the cause of the Monday blaze in the three-story building for recovering addicts and people who had been homeless.

Erica Terry Derryck, a spokeswoman for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, declined further comment.

An investigation into the blaze should be completed within weeks, according to a press release from the city Thursday.

The latest fire occurred three days after city building inspectors found multiple fire code violations, including inoperable sprinklers and alarms, at the building that housed about 80 people.