Partner of artist colony leader sorry about deadly blaze

AP News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2017 10:22 AM
Partner of artist colony leader sorry about deadly blaze

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The longtime partner of the founder of a ramshackle Oakland artists' colony where dozens of people burned to death in a fire last month says she's sorry about what happened but is angry about what she called "pretty terrible" treatment by the media and ex-neighbors.

Micah Allison, the partner of Derick Ion Almena, the Ghost Ship warehouse's master tenant, attended a City Council meeting Monday night at which the lawmakers reviewed ways to protect tenants and temporarily stop evictions from unpermitted live and work spaces, The Bay Area News Group (http://bayareane.ws/2j9XPHN) reported.

Flames tore through the building, known as the "Ghost Ship," during a dance party Dec. 2. The cluttered warehouse had been converted to artists' studios and illegal living spaces, and former denizens said it was a death trap of piled wood, furniture, snaking electrical cords and only two exits. It was the most lethal building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade.

At Monday's meeting, Allison said: "The main thing I wanted to say is how sorry I am for what happened on Dec. 2. I wish that more had been done before, because we carry a really heavy weight on our shoulders right now."

Referring to media reports about her and her partner, she said: "It's been pretty terrible what they've done to my family."

Former neighbors recently stopped her family from moving back into an Oakland home where she, her partner and three children had lived, Allison said.

"The neighbors, who were my friends during the entire time I lived in that house before, got wind that we were going to move back into the house because our landlord really loved us and wanted to help our family," she said. "In a couple hours, or over a 24-hour period, they contacted the landlord and said that if they let us move back into the house that they would cause a lot of trouble for him over his house."

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This story has been corrected to say that Micah Allison is the longtime partner of Derick Ion Almena.

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Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com