To the Burning Man Community Regarding the Oakland Fire

As we’re all too painfully aware by now, a devastating fire broke out at a gathering in Oakland, California on Friday night. As of this morning (December 5), the death toll was 36, with a portion of the building’s remnants still left to search.

Many in the Burning Man community have been deeply affected by this tragic event, and many more across our global network have reached out to ask how we’re doing. In our tight-knit community of creatives, each of us has been touched if not directly, through friends of friends. The degrees of separation are minimal and the collective sense that “it could have been any of us” is as real as it is heartbreaking. We’re deeply saddened by this loss and we’re holding the victims and their friends and families close to our hearts.

True to the Burning Man spirit, we’re also asking ourselves what we can do, how we can help.

For those immediately affected, the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau has established a Family Assistance Center with the American Red Cross at 2425 East 12th Street in Oakland. If you are trying to locate a loved one, you may go to the center or call 510-382-3000 for information.

Secondly, there are several active crowdfunding campaigns, including this one being hosted by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and this one, through which funds are being matched by the Oakland A’s, the Oakland Raiders, and the Golden State Warriors. For those of you in the Bay Area, there will be a vigil tonight from 8 PM – 10 PM at the Lake Merritt Pergola in Oakland. Below is a list of resources collected by some East Bay Burners. Please review and share with those in need.

We also must take a moment to consider what we can do as individuals to try to prevent disasters like this from occurring.

Our resident fire safety manager reminded us this morning that it’s very much about egress, exits, adequate fire suppression, and safety plans. There are little things we can all do to ensure the safety of ourselves and others, and it starts with being alert, aware and not afraid to speak up when we see something that impedes safety.

This is a time that calls for compassion, community support and learning. We can work collaboratively to inform and educate in an effort to prevent these kinds of accidents in the future. This can begin with encouraging venues and community spaces to review their safety protocols and fire response plans. Similarly, we can ask policymakers and agencies to work collaboratively with community spaces, landlords and venues of all kinds in a way that does not drive cultural spaces out of existence, but rather seeks to make a safe and welcome place for them in our cities.

We don’t yet know the scope of the ripple impact of this incident on the Bay Area creative community and beyond. The shock waves are just beginning to be felt, and we will look for ways to participate as the realities unfold.

While we’re all reeling from this terrible news, let’s also take some time to appreciate each other and our precious moments together.

We have already taken steps to reach out to those who have been displaced by this fire and are grieving, and in the days and weeks to come we will consider other ways to support those most affected by this tragedy. If you know of an event, fundraiser, or additional resource to add to this list, please let us know in the comments below.

Update: on December 5th the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced $1.7 million in funding to support sustainable, long-term solutions to creating safe, affordable space for Oakland’s artists and arts organizations. Read the details here

Safety Resources

Check out this ‘Party Fire Safety’ video put together by those in-the-know:

Bookmark and share this video, especially if you are producing events.


Light Vigil for “Ghost Ship” at Lake Merritt Oakland
Monday, December 5th from 8 PM – 10 PM
Lake Merritt Pergola
599 El Embarcadero, Oakland, California 94610

Oakland Fire Benefits: 2 shows in one night!
Kimya Dawson / Torrey Pines / Johnny Physical
Wednesday, Dec 7th from 7 PM – 11 PM
Midsummer Studios
5743 Horton Street, Suite A, Emeryville, California 94608

Oakland Family Dinner / Ghost Ship Relief
Thursday, Dec 8th from 6 PM – 11 PM
First Church Of The Buzzard
2601 Adeline St, Oakland, California 94607

Ghost Ship Arts Collective Benefit Party
Thursday, Dec 8th from 10PM- 4AM
the Endup
401 6th Street, SF

Ghost Ship Fundraiser in Seattle
Friday, December 9th

Fundraiser featuring MOBY
Sunday, December 11th
444 Jessie St, San Francisco, California 94103

Oakland Underground Benefit concert
Saturday, December 17 from 6 PM – 10 PM
Independent Brewing Company
444 Harrison St, Oakland, California 94607

Oakland United: A Night of  Music and Stories
Wednesday, December 14 at 7 PM
Fox Theater
Oakland, California


Fundraising Campaigns

If you are able to make a financial donation, there are several online fundraisers:

Gray Area Foundations for the Arts:

Fund for the 20 residents who lost their homes:

Joint fundraising effort sponsored by Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors:

Counseling Resources

Burning Man strongly believes in the importance of taking care of ourselves in times of crisis. If you or someone you know is need of emotional support, please consult the list below. While most of the resources listed here are in the Bay Area, there are similar resources available in other communities. Regardless of where you live, if you are struggling, we urge you to reach out. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online chat and phone 1-800-273-8255

Alameda County Crisis Support Services 1-800-309-2131

SF Suicide Prevention (415) 781-0500

Trans Lifeline (for trans people in crisis) 877-565-8860

Access Institute (San Francisco)

Integral Counseling Center at Church Street (San Francisco)

Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy (San Francisco and East Bay)

Blue Oak Therapy Center (Berkeley)

Oakland Community Counseling Center (Oakland)

The Center for Somatic Psychotherapy (San Francisco) is offering free counseling (up to 3 sessions) for friends or family members affected by the fire who feel they are in need of emotional support. Please have them call (415) 217-8895

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

51 Comments on “To the Burning Man Community Regarding the Oakland Fire

  • Moxie says:

    Bake sale for the Oakland Fire

    Monday, December 12 at 11:30 AM – 1 PM
    Chronicle Books
    680 2nd St, San Francisco, California 94107

    Swing by our headquarters at 680 2nd Street from 11:30am–1:30pm on Monday, December 12th to purchase treats that raise funds for our neighbors affected by the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.

    All proceeds from the sale will be going to Gray Area Art + Technology fundraiser to help the artists, families, and friends recover and heal.

    We will have lots of sweet and savory baked goods, along with some allergy-friendly treats (gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan). Come by and help raise some much-needed funds!

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  • Dani Derrick says:

    Thank you. Love each other. Hold space for your friends and family. Let people speak and tell stories, let us share how awesome these people are, and how much we will miss them. Sometimes just holding someone can be all that is needed for healing. If you don’t know what to say, just be. Eat good food. Get good sleep. Take gentle care of yourself. Cry when you need too. I love you. XO

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  • Mirabelle Jones says:

    Thank you for your sharing this information Considering a great number of those we lost were people or color, low income, and queer, it would be wonderful to see the Burning Man Community rally to support these artists in particular in the upcoming years. If anyone in the community has the funds to produce affordable, low income housing and performance venues in the Bay Area that promotes artists and musicians NOW IS THE TIME. Rest in peace to those we’ve lost. You were visionary. There is a reason so many people have been affected by this. Your influence was strong. Your hearts huge. Thank you for being with us and gifting us your art and music. We are still listening.

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  • Local friends, PLEASE SHARE – the Center for Somatic Psychotherapy is offering free counseling (up to 3 sessions) for friends or family members affected by the Oakland Ghost Ship tragedy who feel they are in need of emotional support. Please have them call (415) 217-8895
    This is an offering to all community members who have been impacted. Seeking support is a political act. via Psalm Lewis

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  • turnerbroadcasting / Pedro says:

    When you see palettes stacked up as stairs, that’s mother nature’s way of saying ..”Fire Hazard” and “Stay away”. Those palettes go up like old dry eucalyptus trees in the Clairmont.

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  • Rich Szpigiel says:

    It bears reiterating:

    “it’s very much about egress, exits, adequate fire suppression, and safety plans.”

    Thank you.

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  • Kathy Tolf says:

    Your resident fire safety manager is on point; all the historic fires studied by fire safety folks have one absolute in common- a means of egress was compromised, and highly combustible materials were present. The Hartford Circus Fire, the MGM Grand Fire, The Coconut Grove Fire, The Station Fire in RI and many others- those people died because they could not leave faster than the fire spread.
    Fire is an equal opportunity consumer and destroyer. It cares for naught who you are, or what you do.
    We have to stop this from happening again and again and again.

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    • S. Bird says:

      Everything about this fire was avoidable, by any one of the people involved. That’s the tragic part, really.

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    • some seeing eye says:

      First hand reports are that the fire started in a residential area at the back of the warehouse on the first floor from an electrical source, spread up the back stairs and under the roof while moving across the first floor ceiling and traveling up the front stairway audience would use to escape. We will eventually have an official analysis.

      This event is an opportunity to evaluate the risks of events we support. Look around. What could happen? How would you react? It is OK to leave an event. I’ve certainly made decisions to move where I was at SRL performances.

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    • unknown says:

      Most people don’t know what ingress and egress means. Ingress means entrance and egress means exit. Some authorities say as many as 200 similar situations exist in Oakland. Maybe bring a damp smoke mask and fire extinguisher to the next warehouse party?

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  • CM Griffiths says:

    In a time when the national media seems to attach some negligence for safety towards the Ghostship community, this is an absolute essential post that stands up in the default world to take responsibility and to mourn our diverse community members in all their love and glory. I am proud to call all of you my “family of choosing”. In love and light, Toolgirl.

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  • Sunshine Love says:

    Also, this suicide hotline is (under?)staffed by trans volunteers for trans people in crisis:
    Trans Lifeline 877-565-8860

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  • Denise Rees says:

    Really well written. Thank you.

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  • Susan says:

    2 events are happening this Thursday:

    Ghost Ship Arts Collective Benefit Party
    Thursday, Dec 8, 10PM to 4AM
    @the Endup
    401 6th Street, SF

    other event:
    Benefit for Ghost Ship

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  • Tim Kelly says:

    To anyone associated with The Generator in Reno:
    This is a reminder that a full review of our fire emergency plan, fire suppressant equipment location/use, and sharing of feelings about the sad, tragic Oakland fire, is to be aired at our regular Meeting and Pot Luck on Wednesday, December 7th, at The Genny.
    We are sending a delegation to the Bay Area to fact find and report/advise our best means to contribute. A donation jar in support of this mission is in our entry hallway (for gas and motel expenses); please be generous.
    I personally believe the dollar matching by Oakland professional sports teams is the best way to support the survivors that have lost everything, but will qualify that with knowledge how it will be dispersed. Many in our little community are deeply affected and seeking means to demonstrate our support.

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  • Phidias Chinaglia says:

    BMORG is pretty darned good about fire safety.
    I’d recommend reaching out to all such Bay Area spaces and offering fire safety training for long term safety…

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  • Michelle says:

    What about the idea of our very own fire safety team that would offer safety evaluations of these spaces so they remain protected and also inspected? It could start with your resident fire safety manager, but build a coilition to inspect places for free! Preventative measures… just an idea. Also, the BM community could pool sources for alarms and extinguishers and such. Peace and love to the hearts of those hurting❤️

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    • Jeff Howe says:

      I am a licensed architect, a burner, and an artist. I am offering pro-bono consultation about egress, fire rated construction, ADA access, and the permitting process to anyone thinking about building or upgrading a space to house and promote the arts. I also willing to create and donate basic drawings if they will be used to solicit investors or raise funds for the fire and life safety aspects of the project. Please contact me or another architect before you put peoples lives at risk. It doesn’t have to cost you anything to at least learn what should be done to protect yourself and others.

      Jeff Howe

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  • Andy Daniel says:

    I just want to one thing about egress – fire codes for emergency exits assume that the maximum occupancy will not be exceeded. In many events, the space is packed far beyond the legal limit, often to the point that people can barely move. This dramatically increases the danger should fire break out.

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  • Melody says:

    Fundraiser in Seattle (I’m not associated with it, just aware of it):

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  • Jim says:

    You should also start a fund to support those relatives who want to expose the negligent behavior of the Oakland fire department through legal action, but cannot afford the attorney’s fees.

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  • Paulus Shamus says:

    I hope they can use some of those funds collected to build the poorer artists some new, safe, low cost living areas. Best of luck from Chitown

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  • Michael says:

    After reading through the comments, it’s clear the burner community is anxious to help. As a ceramic artist, fire is absolutely required for completed work.

    I’m fortunate in that my studio is housed in a building w/fire suppressing systems, good ventilation, and run by landlords that are concerned with our collective safety.

    I read of one group raising money to sue the Oakland Fire Dept! The building owner knew what was needed to prevent this tragedy but instead ignored it…ultimately allowing greed to feed his sins of omission. Use your funds to file charges against the building owner, not OFD…..jeez

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    • larry says:

      Everyone wants to blame the guv’mint. The gov’mint didn’t correct the mistakes of the building owner and manager so now they must pay the victims of the people that created the disaster. Meaning the citizens will pay. When the gov’mint condemns and closes100s of other unsafe buildings it will be sued as well for taking away affordable housing. Can’t win with fanatic idiots.

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      • Denree Smith says:

        From watching news, reading articles and facebook, this tragedy is the result of the failure of many people and entities. I anticipate criminal charges for the owner, leaseholder and maybe other co-owners and producers. I anticipate civil suits against the City of Oakland. There is legal precedent from the 1990 Happy Land Bronx Fire and the 2003 Station Nightclub Rhode Island Fire for criminal convictions and civil fines. Following the The Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest, Romania on 30 October 2015, which killed 64 people and injured 147, there were massive protest resulting in the resignation of the Prime Minister’s Ponte Government, and two Ministers. Demonstrations across the country 50,000 strong across Romania and Europe demanded and got early elections. I believe corruption and negligence was uncovered. Criminal investigation is ongoing targeting the owner, the mayor, the pyrotechnics company and others. It’s on Wikipedia. We’re in for a long process. I phoned the DAs office this morning to thank them for their work and encourage arrests and justice. DA phone number (510) 272-6222

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  • Eumna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m devastated by the tragic lost of lives. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Love and prayers during this difficult time.

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  • Paulus Shamus says:

    ablableWhat would it take to create a whole area in Oakland warehouses with renovated safe historically important cheap living and working spaces for artists which would en

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  • Another benefit: Moby at Mezzanine . Sunday night.

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  • JV says:

    Another reason for artists to leave the Bay Area. We’ve been priced out, and not just in pockets, but the ENTIRE Bay Area. Lots of great warehouse and other such spaces in Stockton, Sacramento, etc. Leave the Bay Area to the Prop 13 beneficiaries and the recently wealthy. They can have it and stew in its sterility when the reason they moved there, the cultural creators, are gone.

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  • your mother says:

    This outpouring of support is great. However, what about the responsibility of Derick Ion Almena, his wife, the people that lived in that deathtrap building and the slumlord owner, Ms. Ng?! Lets not forget that all or some of those folks created this deathtrap. Maybe one of them deliberately or accidentally lit the fire. My first thought when I read about the fire is that some of the people involved with Ghost Ship are Burning Man attendees. No doubt there are plenty of other buildings in the Bay Area that are also death/fire traps and some of those are frequented by Burners. We’ve all been at parties and events – especially non permitted underground parties, where people would have died if there had been a fire. Get your act together people. If you’re in an unsafe environment, leave, get people out of there, complain to everyone that will listen and call the fire department and city code enforcement for code violations before a fire if it will save lives.

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  • Denree Smith says:

    There is a helping fire relief website. Members of the art/music community are providing info on donations, benefits, resources for those impacted, harm reduction and safety info for DIY spaces, and more. On Face Book it’s Ghost Ship Fire Relief.

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  • Denree Smith says:

    Eli’s Mile High Club is collecting much needed physical donations on Saturday December 10th, 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
    3629 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, 94609

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  • Denree Smith says:

    3629 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland

    Saturday at 12 PM – 8 PM

    Collecting physical donations for the needs of those impacted by the fire. The message with the link didn’t get posted. Here are the detail.

    We will be collecting donations of goods and services directed towards those that have lost in this tragedy and those we can help in order to avoid such crushing circumstances in the future.

    We are working on some google docs spreadsheets to organize resources for grief counseling and other areas of mental health for survivors and the loved ones of those lost. This will be up and running as soon as possible, we will keep everyone updated.

    For those of you who had to leave your personal belongings we are accepting donations of the following;
    Cell Phones
    Bike Parts
    Bike Lights and Locks
    Backpacks, Bike Bags, Purses

    If there is anything that you think would be a valuable addition to this list please don’t hesitate to contribute.

    If you have any available temporary housing for anyone who has been displaced please let us know.

    For those of you living in DIY spaces, and for those of you with less-than-desirable landlords, we are accepting donations of the following;
    Fire Extinguishers
    Smoke Alarms
    Exit Signs

    If you have the skillsets to contribute to this we would love to hear from you Electricians, Carpenters, EMT’s, Fire Fighters, Architects, Engineers, Etc.

    We will be working towards a goal of making all of our community’s DIY spaces safe. If you have a space that is in need of fine tuning let us know. We will be working on spreadsheets for this as well, with lists of places, necessities and services needed.


    We do not have any concrete way of contacting everyone affected by this. The best we can do is blast this out there. If you need anything let us know. Because this is a public event we will have to privately share the address. There will be a bazaar type set up where you can shop around for the things you need.

    If there is anything that you feel we have missed please contribute.

    We love you Oakland!!

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  • Denree Smith says:

    There’s a meeting at City Hall TOMORROW December 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm, 3rd floor. FrankOgalla Plaza on Broadway between 14th St and 16th St. The State of Emergency Proclamation will be read. It’s open to the public and might be an opportunity for people to address questions and concerns. There will be FREE PARKING at the parking garage across the street from City Hall. I think on Clay. Mayor’s office phone number is 238-3266.

    From The City of Oakland website concerning the fire:

    At the press conference, 12/6/16, Mayor Schaaf shared that a local state of emergency has been proclaimed. The proclamation will go before the Oakland City Council at a special meeting on Thursday, December 8, for ratification. The proclamation is accessible on…/doc…/pressrelease/oak061793.pdf

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  • Denree Smith says:

    List Of Oakland Fire Fundraisers/Benefits/Clothing Drives/Events:

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  • Denree Smith says:

    Oakland City Council

    The City Council meet the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month in Council Chambers on the 3rd floor of City Hall. Ceremonial presentations and non-controversial (consent) items will be heard at 5:30 pm. At 6:30 pm public hearings and discussion items are reviewed.

    Oakland City Counsel Committees

    Council committees meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month from 9:30 am until convened in Sgt. Mark Dunakin room, on the first floor of City Hall. Community and Economic Development is from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. Public Safety meets at 6:00 pm.

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  • Rise & Shine says:

    This video was made by those in the BM community and includes a former BM fire chief. Inspired by this swift response to tragedy.

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  • HEARTS of LOVE says:

    First I wanna say my thoughts and prayers are with the families in this tragic event. Second I would like to say I am not from California but, a few yrs ago I went there to live I end up staying in Oakland and Modesto and in both cities was thrown back by how many people were homeless, homeless with children trying to sleep in anything they could it was awful. I blame the city, government, county because it is not like they aren’t aware of the ongoing homeless situation there CALIFORNIA needs to do something its not like that in other states!!!!!!

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