The devastating fire that broke out in an Oakland, California warehouse on Friday has claimed the lives of 36 people. The fire, which took place in the artist collective known as "Ghost Ship," was one of the city's deadliest building fires in history.
When the media tried to get answers from Derick Ion Almena, the owner of the warehouse, about the shoddy conditions that potentially led to the tragedy, Almena did not exactly comply. "Today" show hosts Matt Lauer and Tamron Hall tried to ask Almena about what went wrong and he became extremely agitated. He started off the interview by asking, "What am I doing here?" and only occasionally looked at the camera, mumbling and pacing during each of the anchor's questions.
"The family members of those who were lost want answers," Lauer said. "They want to know who should be held accountable for the loss of their loved ones. Are you the man who should be held accountable?"
“I’m not going to answer these questions the way you are presenting them,” he said, raising his voice and interrupting the hosts.
“I’d rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents! I'd rather let them tear up my flesh than answer these ridiculous questions!”
Almena said he is only on TV to say one thing - that he is "incredibly sorry."
Almena is understandably upset. Yet, as Lauer noted, the victims' families want and deserve answers. Why, for instance, did the warehouse continue to host events with building-code violations? A CNN report referred to Ghost Ship as a "dilapidated two-story structure."
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.