Ghost Ship Trial: Man tried to save victims as he fled from fire

Bay Area

OAKLAND (KRON) — Jurors listened to emotional witness testimony Thursday as the trial for the men accused in the deadly Oakland Ghost Ship fire continued. 

The two defendents, Max Harris and Derick Almena, are each facing 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter as result of the 36 people that died in the 2016 warehouse fire. 

Witness Jose Avalos took the stand inside an Oakland courtroom Thursday detailing how he found his way out of the Ghost Ship warehouse as fire erupted. 

Avalos told the courtroom how he tried to get a young girl to follow him out of the warehouse on the night of Dec. 2, 2016 — but lost sight of her. 

Court proceedings were halted during the man’s testimony Thursday afternoon because of how emotional his testimony was. Court proceedings are expected to continue later in the day. 

On Wednesday, jurors heard from an Alameda fire marshal, who testified that certain upgrades should be made to buildings like the Ghost Ship when it’s used as a residential or public gathering space. Those upgrades include adding fire sprinklers, fire alarms and marked exit paths to the building. 

The fire marshall told the court that a tenant or building owner could be the one to make those changes. 

His testimony appeared to place blame on defendant Almena — but his attorney tried to redirect the blame by saying he expected the Ghost Ship’s landlord to make the building upgrades. 

Almena’s attorney also said the Oakland Fire Department should’ve issued a citation, saying the building was not in compliance to codes. 

The fire marshall told the court he could not find documentation of inspections from the fire department. 

Court proceedings are expected to continue Thursday afternoon. 

Almena is believed to have rented the warehouse and illegally converting it into an entertainment venue and residences prior to the fire.

Harris reportedly helped Almena collect rent and schedule performances at the Ghost Ship. 

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