Oakland artists fear eviction after Ghost Ship fire

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Oakland artists are pleading with city officials to help them make spaces safer after the Ghost Ship fire, not condemn the buildings they live in. (KGO-TV)

Oakland artists are pleading with city officials not to turn them out into the cold as the investigation into the Ghost Ship fire continues.

RELATED: Man says CPS worker in Ghost Ship warehouse days before fire

Several spoke at a city council committee meeting on illegal living spaces.

Some Oakland City Council members are looking at ways to improve, not eliminate artist colonies in Oakland.

Worry is part of the emotional whirlwind facing artists in Oakland right now. Matt Hummel is a local artist who also ran for city council in the last election. He says the Ghost Ship disaster weighs on them all. "We're heartbroken," he said. "And we don't have a chance to grieve because of our homes are at stake."

Hummel says he was invited to Friday's ill fated party at the Ghost Ship warehouse, but couldn't go because of back problems. He says he lost five friends in the deadly fire, but the loss is spurring him and others to launch a fundraising effort aimed at making such places safer.

"We're collecting money for fire extinguishers, for alarms, for exit signs," he told ABC7 News. "I've gone on walk through, there are walk throughs going on even as we speak to ensure people's safety."

One place he hopes to walk through in the future is a converted warehouse with unfortunate name, Deathtrap in East Oakland to make sure it doesn't live up to its name.

Meantime, city council member Noel Gallo, whose district includes the Ghost Ship, says the city will have to beef up its inspection and regulation.

RELATED: Oakland restaurant owner and artists clash over code enforcement

"We in the city of Oakland have dropped the ball when it comes to safety on the street, as well as safety in our living quarters."

Click here for all of ABC7News' photos, video and stories on the Ghost Ship fire.

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