Oakland fire victims: teacher and artists among those killed

Friends and family mourn the victims of the devastating fire that sent shockwaves through the vibrant underground scene in the California city

The victims of the devastating fire that as of Monday killed at least 36 people in Oakland, California, were artists, musicians, activists, community organizers and other young people who came together for a party at the Ghost Ship warehouse on Friday night.

The fire, the deadliest in Oaklands history, sent shockwaves through the vibrant underground scene in the northern California city, which is a haven for experimental art and music.

This is a mass loss. Its reverberating throughout the entire community, said Sarah Carlberg, assistant director of the Bay Area Book Festival, who knew many at the party. Every one of those people were really active community makers and agents of culture and art.

As of Monday morning, investigators were still processing the scene at the warehouse and identifying victims, some as young as 17 and many in their 20s and 30s. Police expect the number of fatalities to continue to rise and have only confirmed the names of seven people so far.

Donna Kellogg, 32

Kellogg, who lived in Oakland, was a barista at a local coffee shop in Berkeley and was well known in the arts community.

She had a really good heart, said friend Jenny Yang, an Oakland resident who is active in the local DIY art scene. I just always felt like she was a very wise person in the sense of really understanding people and never showing negative judgement toward anyone.

Yang said she would always see Kellogg riding her bike and that she was often present at local art events: I felt like she was this magical person, kind of like an angel that arrived. She was always in the background smiling.

Donna Kellogg was a barista at a local coffee shop in Berkeley and was well known in the arts community. Photograph: Courtesy of Susan Slocum

Cash Askew, 22

Askew, an Oakland resident, was well known for her band Them Are Us Too, an emerging goth duo that launched their first album with Dais Records. She was without a doubt one of the most talented and loving people weve ever known, the label wrote on Facebook. We will never be the same.

Friends and loved ones have offered tributes online, with band Wax Idols writing: I cannot find words adequate enough to describe what a loss this is. Not just to me personally & us as a band, but to everyone who ever met Cash or felt the gentle, transcendent power of her existence, her music & her energy.


div class=”u-responsive-ratio”> Cash

Cash Askew. Photograph: Kristin Cofer

Nick Gomez-Hall, 25

Gomez-Hall, from Coronado in southern California, worked at Counterpoint Press, a publisher in Berkeley. The company wrote on Facebook: Whether he was recommending new music to listen to (and it was always so good), regaling us with tales of the bowling alley, offering his beloved truck for a ride if anyone needed it, or sharing his much appreciated opinions about a book jacket or manuscript, he made everyone feel like they were his friend. He was kind, considerate, hilarious.

Gomez-Hall studied at Brown University, where community members were mourning on Monday and sharing memories of his music. A local newspaper shared an article he wrote and noted that his band Nightmom served as a kind of way in to the Providence music scene a few years ago, and we are seeing the impacts of his loss all around PVD today.

Nick Gomez-Hall. Photograph: Facebook

David Cline, 24

A 2015 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with degrees in cognitive science and computer science, Cline lived in Oakland and was a musician and athlete growing up.

His former music teacher of 10 years, Amanda Walker, wrote on Facebook that he played clarinet for the all-state band and was a volleyball player for his high school team near Santa Monica. A friend, Kara OConnor, wrote in her own post that he was one of the absolute brightest people Ive ever had the great fortune of knowing.

Mateo Garcia, a friend of Clines since elementary school, told the Guardian he was always the classmate or teammate that lit up the room.
He was always able to snap you out of a funk by just saying something or doing something goofy.

David Cline was a musician and athlete growing up. Photograph: Courtesy of the Cline Family

Sara Hoda, 30

Hoda worked as a teacher at a Montessori school in the Bay Area, and with a friend, Carol Crewdson, had helped start a collective house, called the Musick Box, as a temporary residence for traveling artists. She was a principled person, Crewdson wrote on Facebook, She was compassionate, decent, and honorable. She didnt do drugs and she wasnt a drinker.

She was a teacher and a gardener, Crewdson wrote, She loved children and earth, and she put those principles in action.

Angie Green, another friend, posted her own tribute: I know we have not spoken in a while but I think of you often and will always miss you. You were one of the kindest and most selfless people Ive ever met and I wish you could have stayed with us longer.

Sara Hoda worked as a teacher and helped start a collective house as a temporary residence for traveling artists. Photograph: Facebook

Travis Hough, 35

A musician with the electronic group Ghost of Lightning, Hough was remembered by family and friends from his hometown, Benicia, and from the California art world he was a graduate of the California College of the Arts. A friend from high school, Jeanne Geiger, called Hough such a special member of our unique little Benicia music community, and his friend James Morgan wrote, Travis was always a model of compassion and grace. I have a profound admiration for him and the way he lived. He was a free spirit. He will be grievously missed.

His friends launched a donation fund for the family, writing that he was was a unique, warm, loving soul that this world was blessed to know.


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Travis Hough was always a model of compassion and grace, his friends said. Photograph: Facebook

Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32

Wittenauer, from Hayward, California, was a musician who also went by the stage name Nex Iuguolo and was part of a band called Symbiotix.Fungi. His longtime friend Amanda Fish, who met Wittenauer in high school, said that he was part of a tight-knit community in the East Bay music scene.

It was great that he found all these Oakland events. He found similar artists and they all encouraged each other, he said. He knew everybody in the room. He was like Mr Charisma … Chase made everyone around him feel loved.

Wittenauer grew up in Santa Maria and became very interested in experimental music Fish described as industrial techno.

He was sweet and sincere and charming and he was really curious about the universe, she added. He was just excited about life. He had tons of energy and he really encouraged you to follow your dreams. Hes going to leave a huge hole in our life.

Brandon Chase Wittenauer. Photograph: Instagram

If you would like to share a tribute to any of the victims, email sam.levin@theguardian.com and alan.yuhas@theguardian.com.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/05/oakland-california-ghost-ship-fire-victims-list

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