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Ghost Ship Fire Haunts City Officials After Another Fatal Blaze

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Less than four months after the Ghost Ship fire claimed 36 young lives, another fire destroyed a large Oakland building plagued with safety violations. Three people died and more lost their homes in the latest fire, which broke out the morning of March 26.

The building at 2551 San Pablo Avenue contained transitional housing and social services. According to SFGate, public records showed the city responded to numerous complaints about the building. Violations included a lack of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, a malfunctioning sprinkler system, and a series of extension cords.

The fire displaced more than 100 people, including 60 to 80 tenants. Three people died and four were hospitalized.

Both this fire and the Ghost Ship fire came after a series of tenant complaints. In the case of the Ghost Ship, building owners and the master tenant knew about faulty wiring for at least two years but didn't fix the problem.

Whether you are a homeowner or a property owner, you have a duty under California law to install and maintain adequate smoke alarms. All homes built before 1974 must have at least one smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are required in and outside of every sleeping room and on every floor.

In my blog about the Ghost Ship fire, I outlined ways you can prepare for and prevent a house fire. It's worth a look.

Landlords and rental property owners take note: as of January 1, 2014, owners of both multifamily and single family rental units who rent or lease property are responsible for testing and maintaining all smoke alarms. In apartment buildings with two or more units, landlords are responsible for testing and maintaining smoke alarms.

Working smoke alarms provide advance warning of a fire, which gives you and your family time to get out of the house safely. Make sure your home or rental property includes one or more of these simple safety devices.

If you would like to make a donation to support the fire victims, donate to the Red Cross at redcross.org. Check the option "Home Fire Relief" and note in the comments the donation is earmarked for services to support families impacted by the 2551 San Pablo Ave./Mead Ave. fire in Oakland.

If you were injured in a fire caused by someone else's negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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Oakland, CA 94612

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