OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Two men were killed and dozens were displaced by a three-alarm fire in Oakland early Saturday morning at a former armory building converted into apartments, a fire official said.
Fire crews responded to a report of a smoke detector that went off in the 600 block of 24th Street shortly before 3 a.m., Oakland Battalion Chief Geoff Hunter said.
The orange glow from the fire could be seen for miles. Massive flames shot into the night sky as a beloved artists' work and living space burned.
"We ran for our lives, there's three of us in our unit, we ran down the stairs grabbed the cat and fled," said resident Amanda Bailey.
Sleepy residents packed what little they could and watched as crews fought this stubborn fire.
"We had to have companies on the roof, getting holes opened with saws, crews inside with nozzles, hitting the fire pulling down ceilings to get at the hidden fire," Battalion Chief Hunter said.
Even before the smoke lifted and daylight arrived, it was clear that two people were dead.
The deceased were a 35-year-old man and a 28-year-old man, according to Hunter. Neighbors believe it was Daniel "Moe" Thomas and his male roommate who died in their apartment.
Investigators believe the fire started near the victim's bed.
"Right across from our door is his space, it's just charcoal. It's weird, surreal, very surreal," said neighbor Jordan Glenn.
San Francisco gallery owner, Joan McLoughlin is devastated. She gave Thomas his first gallery show two years ago. He was set to open his first solo show in the fall.
"Huge loss to the art community," said McLoughlin.
More than 30 people are looking for a new home tonight.
Bay City News contributed to this story.
Two dead, dozens displaced in Oakland apartment fire