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Friday’s fire a sad reminder of how fragile life can be

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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To donate:

The Oakland A’s, in association with the city of Oakland, has set up a cash donation site for Oakland Fire Victims at http://tinyurl.com/OakFireRelief.

The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has set up a cash donation site at https://www.youcaring.com/firevictimsofoaklandfiredec232016-706684.

In what should be a joyous time, this holiday season lost its sparkle Friday night.

Thirty-six young adults were sadly killed in a fire Friday that quickly blew through a late-night rave at a two-story Oakland warehouse, known as The Ghost Ship. The building was home to many artists.

Victims didn’t have time to escape. The young adults never had a chance. All they had time for was to call or text their loved ones, with the terrifying and chilling message, “I’m going to die, mom. I love you,” according to CNN and the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s not fair; the fire victims weren’t doing anything evil. They were just hanging out with their friends on a Friday night in a Bay Area building.

First responders immediately went into a recovery effort, not expecting to find survivors. It could take weeks for a full recovery of all bodies. The badly-damaged building required shoring to secure the collapsed sections of the building and the building’s roof collapsed onto the second floor.

Life is so fragile.

Upon seeing a CNN breaking news text about the fire at 1315 31st Ave. in Oakland, I immediately called my daughter early Saturday morning to make sure she wasn’t there.

She’s artistic, she likes to dance and she’s in San Francisco, a few minutes away from Oakland by BART. It’s the kind of party that would appeal to her. I’m sure she knows some of the 36 young artistic adults who lost their lives in that tragic fire.

I’ll be thankful every day for the rest of my life that my daughter answered my phone call Saturday and was nowhere near the Oakland building.

Although I don’t know them and there was nothing I could do 115 miles away, I can’t stop thinking about the 36 innocent victims. Each time I get a news alert about the fire, I feel raw.

The fire investigation is going to take several weeks to complete.

On Nov. 13, less than three weeks before Friday’s deadly warehouse fire, the city of Oakland received complaints of blight and unpermitted interior construction at the building. On Nov. 17, an Oakland building inspector visited the property and verified the blight complaint but could not gain access to the building to confirm the other complaint regarding unpermitted construction, according to a city of Oakland news release.

“This is an ongoing investigation. Our city has experienced a tremendous tragedy. As a community, we can come together in recovery and spirit,” according to the press release.

But 36 families will never be the same again. The holiday season will be an awful reminder forever that their loved ones unexpectedly lost their lives.

On Monday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley activated the criminal investigation teams, according to an Oakland press release:  “In the coming days, after the recovery phase is completed, our focus will shift to a thorough investigation of what occurred. We are committed to bringing every resource to bear to determine what happened here and how such a tragic event could have occurred. Our priority is to bring closure to this tragedy for the victims’ families.”

While the majority of Lincoln residents this week are buying holiday presents and hanging Christmas lights, 36 families who we don’t know are dealing with the unexpected loss of their loves ones. They’ll never see their faces again or hear their words again.

But we can help, even though we don’t know these families. We can make cash donations to the victims. The donation links are http://tinyurl.com/OakFireRelief and  https://www.youcaring.com/firevictimsofoaklandfiredec232016-706684.

Friday’s tragedy reminds us that each day is a gift. Life is so unpredictable.

Next time you see a homeless person crunched up on a park bench, unresponsive, call the police for a welfare check. Next time you see a building that has a potential fire hazard, please call the fire department or the city of Lincoln’s building code inspector.

Don’t assume someone else might make that call. By calling, you might save a life.