OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The converted warehouse known as the "Ghost Ship" where a deadly fire ripped through a late-night dance party was an artist workspace and illegal home for a rotating cast of a dozen or more residents, those who lived there or visited often said.

Former residents said it was also a death trap with few exits, a rickety makeshift staircase, piles of driftwood and a labyrinth of electrical cords. The ground floor had five recreational vehicles and other nooks used as living spaces that were rented out to tenants, while the upstairs had space for concerts like the deadly party that drew up to 100 people Friday night.

With few lights, the place could be pitch black. One staircase led to a boarded up door. The water and electricity were stolen from neighbors and often didn't work.

Oakland officials said they had opened an investigation just last month into the warehouse after numerous complaints filed by neighbors who said trash was piling up outside the property and people were illegally living in the building, which was zoned as a warehouse.

Authorities say nine bodies have been recovered from the rubble and the search continues for more victims.


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