A former tenant of the “death trap” warehouse where at least 30 people have died in a blaze has revealed it had caught fire before.
Shelley Mack, who once lived at the warehouse in Oakland, which was called the Ghost Ship, said she had answered an ad on Facebook, paying around $700 a month to live there, as well as $700 more for a deposit, and a further $700 which was meant to go towards improvements at the building.
However, she said no repairs or rennovations were ever carried out, that the building was often freezing cold and water and power supplies were stolen from neighbouring properties.
She revealed that a power generator exploded and residents doused the flames to stop them from spreading. Ms Mack said she only found out the building was not a legal residence after she moved in. She says owners told her that she must not tell anyone she was actually living there. Instead, she was told to say that she was an artist using the 24/7 workspace.
The former resident said she felt incredibly lucky to have left when she did. The 58-year-old, who makes jewellery and works in tech sales, said that it was a scam and that people who had nowhere else to go were taken advantage of.
Currently, firefighters in Oakland say that at least 30 people have died in the blaze, which took place during a dance party. However, only a fifth of the building has been searched and the death toll is expected to rise.
Officials have said they found it hard to get inside in their rescue efforts as a result of clutter. Ms Mack said that while she lived there, there were huge electrical cords running through the building to run musical equipment. She added: “I didn’t think it was going to last this long before it went up or somebody shut it down.”