The owner of the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland is set to receive an insurance payout of $3 million, as reported by local news outlet KTVU:
Commercial Industrial Buildings Owners Alliance Insurance Company insured the building, according to an investigative report by the Oakland Fire Department. Outside an Oakland courtroom on Wednesday, attorneys for one of the defendants in the criminal case confirmed Ng is set to receive the payment from the insurance firm, after the fire ripped through the warehouse on 31st Avenue on Dec 2, 2016.
The warehouse doubled as a DIY venue known as Ghost Ship that made headlines in 2016 when a fire erupted during an underground dance party that killed 36 people.
The owner, Chor Ng, is not being held responsible for the deaths that occurred. However, the building owners did know about the faulty electrical system that ended up causing the fire for up to two years prior to the incident, according to reports from The Mercury News:
“The lack of electrical infrastructure was made very clear before your lease began,” Kai Ng, the son of building owner Chor Ng, wrote in a Feb. 15, 2015, email to Derick Almena, who ran the artists’ cooperative in the illegally converted Ghost Ship warehouse, subletting space to artists who lived there.
Two days earlier, Almena had told Kai Ng that electricity flowed to the arts collective and adjoining businesses within the block of buildings the Ngs owned through “ancient and violated lines of distribution” that were “in dire need of a total and immediate upgrade.” Chor Ng has owned the building, a former milk bottling plant, for more than 25 years.
The Mercury News also reported that experts said the email evidence could help bolster a possible criminal case against the landlords, but Ng was never charged in the final criminal case.
The two people being charged are the event's organizers, Derick Almena and Max Harris, who are accused of knowingly inviting participants to an unsafe location. They have both plead not guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
“She profited off this tragedy,” said attorney Curtis Briggs, who is representing Harris, in a quote to KTVU. “She essentially created this fire trap by being a slumlord. [The Ngs] didn’t see the human life, they saw the dollar signs.