OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Officials have confirmed that 33 people have been found dead at the site of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire and that number is expected to rise, with only 35-40 percent of the building search complete so far. Authorities have identified 11 of the bodies but withheld some of the names, according to the AP. Those whose identities were yet to be released included a 17-year-old and the son of a sheriff's deputy, authorities said.
On Sunday afternoon, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office confirmed that one of their deputies lost a son in the fire. Later that evening, city officials released the names of seven people who died in the fire.
Search crews are on 12-hour shifts and authorities say the search is painstaking and painful. What they found at 31st Avenue and International Boulevard has been overwhelming, even for seasoned professionals. "It was quiet. It was heartbreaking," Oakland Fire Dept. Batt. Chief Melinda Drayton said. When the sheriff's office initially announced that 24 people had been found dead, everyone slumped in sadness.
First responders are reportedly exhausted and emotional, and they still have a long way to go. "At the point, we have approximately 80 percent left to search so within 12 hours of our operational briefing, we made it through 1/5 of the building. This will be a long and arduous process but we want to make sure that we are respecting the victims, their families and our firefighters' safety to work slowly and carefully through the building," Drayton said.
The sheriff's office says they're taking a somber approach to the effort. They say it is quiet inside the warehouse and heartbreaking. They've been taking items out of the building bucket by bucket, sorting it in a vacant lot, and then taking it to an off-site location.
They found three victims on the east side of the building. Then they had to move rafters that had fallen in the middle of the building. Once they got out of the way, they found four victims together. Then 10 feet away, they found six more.
That's a glimpse into the grim work they're doing in there. They're also concerned about what they call "widow makers," things that fall from the ceiling and hit crews while they work inside the building. These are slowing progress on their search for more victims.
The coroner's office has to identify these victims and has only made official notification to three families. They say there are some international victims, and are working to contact foreign governments and consulates. They say they will need dental records and DNA to identify some people and that could take weeks.
One goal that is important to them is being respectful to the victims' memories.
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