Ghost Ship Trial: Fire investigator testifies about arson theory

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- One of the main theories floated by defense attorneys for Derick Almena and Max Harris during the Ghost Ship fire trial is that the deadly blaze was started by an arsonist with a Molotov cocktail.

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But a retired investigator for the Oakland Fire Department, Maria Sabatini, told the jury that she and other local and federal investigators found no evidence of arson in the debris of the gutted warehouse.

"We didn't find any evidence of Molotov cocktails or any other incendiary, but we couldn't rule it out," testified Sabatini.



Sabatini said fire investigators, including some from the ATF, located the origin of the fire -- in the northwest corner of the first floor of the warehouse -- but not the exact cause.

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Propane, natural gas and electrical appliances were ruled out, but not the larger electrical system.

"She can't rule out arson," said Andy Stein, an attorney for Max Harris.

RELATED: Survivor of Oakland Ghost Ship fire shares emotional testimony

Defense attorneys claim the fact that Sabatini could not eliminate arson, or many other possible causes -- is key to their clients' case.

"The electrical engineers have eliminated all other causes for this fire," said Stein. "So the only other choice is it's man-made, and if it's man-made, then Max is going home."

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