EXCLUSIVE: Ghost Ship warehouse founder speaks on deadly fire

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News spoke exclusively to the man who rented out the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland for Friday night's concert party.

RELATED: Ex-employees say Ghost Ship founder disregarded fire hazard warnings

Derick Ion Almena and his wife are staying at the Oakland Marriott City Center. They were spotted as they came out of the elevator at about 10:45 p.m. Sunday.

They were surprised to see us and tried to evade ABC7 News Reporter Lilian Kim.

He is the man who ran the artist enclave at the Ghost Ship warehouse.

PHOTOS: A look inside the Oakland Ghost Ship collective warehouse

Since the fire, stories have surfaced about how he allegedly ignored repeated warnings that his artist's enclave was a "death trap."

He was then criticized for a Facebook post soon after the fire that many thought to be insensitive.

It says, "Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound... it's as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope... to be standing now in poverty of self worth." Micah is his wife.

MORE: Victims of the Oakland warehouse fire

ABC7 News asked him what he'd like to say to the 33 families who lost loved ones.

Lilian Kim: People have been wondering if you have anything to say to them.

Derick Ion Almena: They're my children. They're my friends, they're my family, they're my loves, they're my future. What else do I have to say?

That was all Ion would say before walking away with his wife. It's unclear how long they'll be staying at the Marriott.

They did not check in under their names and it's not known if their three children are here as well.

The East Bay Express reports that child care officials took Ion and his partner's children after fearing for their safety at the warehouse last year.

Then the family was reunited in June.

Another report shows Ion pleaded no contest to charges of receiving stolen property in Alameda County last year and he's on probation until 2019.

The planning and building permit officials say Ion needed a special permit for Friday night's party at Ghost Ship.

He did not have that permit and fire officials have said criminal charges are a possibility.

If you are trying to locate a loved one, or need information call 510-382-3000.

Click here for all ABC7 News stories, videos, and photos from the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.
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