The families of the victims killed in Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire sued Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Tuesday, saying the utility supplied power to the doomed artist space with “blatant disregard” for the safety of the people in the building.
The lawsuit comes as the latest legal action against the building’s owner, manager and others connected to the property that went up in flames on Dec. 2, killing 36 in the deadliest fire in the state in more than a century.
“PG&E was negligent in supplying power to the building,” attorney Mary Alexander, who represents the families, said Tuesday. “PG&E exhibited a willful and blatant disregard for the safety of this building and the people that lived and visited there.”
The lawsuit alleges utility workers had installed several smart meters in the buildings adjoining the Ghost Ship warehouse at 1305 31st Ave. in Oakland’s Fruitvale District, and they should have known that the electrical system was “dangerous, defectives, out-of-code compliance, and an imminent threat to the health, safety and lives of the owners, occupants, customers and invitees of those structures.”
Alexander said attorneys walked through the burned out remnants of the warehouse and observed the serpentine system of electrical cords that brought power into the ramshackle space.
That power allegedly originated from a transformer box inside a neighboring auto body shop. Four properties, including the auto body shop and Ghost Ship shared one electrical meter.
PG&E officials released a statement on Tuesday, but said they had not seen the lawsuit.
“We can say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims of this tragic event,” said Tamar Sarkissian, a PG&E spokeswoman. “We’ve reviewed our records and over the last 10-plus years, we have no reports of electric theft or any other anomalies from this location or the adjacent premises. We’re fully cooperating with authorities as they investigate this tragic event.”
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The legal action — called a “master complaint” — consolidated lawsuits by 18 plaintiffs represented by various law firms in the months after the fire, seeks to streamline the civil action against the private entities named as defendants.
Also accused of negligence are building owner Chor Ng, master tenent Derick Almena, promoter Jon Hrabko, Joel Shanahan, a performer known as Golden Donna, and others.
Attorneys for the victims’ families have separately filed legal claims against the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the State of California related to the tragedy.
A legal claim is a necessary legal procedure when bringing actions against a government entity and often precedes a lawsuit.
Evan Sernoffsky is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky...Read more