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Refrigerator ruled out as cause of Oakland warehouse fire

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Emergency personnel display images from the Ghost Ship scene in Oakland, Calif. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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A federal investigator said Friday that a refrigerator has been ruled out as the cause of a fire at a warehouse in Oakland’s Fruitvale district last week that claimed 36 lives.

Speaking at a news conference across the street from the “Ghost Ship” a warehouse at 1315 31st Ave., Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder with the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said investigators are looking at other electrical items as the possible ignition source for the deadly blaze but no conclusions have been reached so far.

Snyder said electrical engineers and other fire investigators who are at the scene are looking at “everything that’s electrical” but haven’t determined that something electrical caused the blaze.

Snyder said Tuesday that a refrigerator near the back of the building was a possible ignition source but that had not been conclusively determined.

“The refrigerator was in the area of the origin but it did not the cause of the fire,” she said Friday.

Investigators still don’t think the fire was started intentionally, and Snyder added that one possibility is that investigators could rule that the cause is undetermined.

“That means that we do not without question know what the source of ignition was for the fire,” she said.

Electrical items that investigators are looking at include outlets and power cords, Snyder said.

A forensic mapping team arrived at the fire site Friday to help investigators document the scene and prepare a diagram, she said.

The mapping effort will take about three days and then investigators will spend another today to analyze its results, Snyder said.

Family members and friends of those who were killed in the fire are continuing to come to the scene to see where their loved ones spent their final moments.

Just before Snyder held her news conference, Oakland police and fire chaplain Jayson Landeza took several family members to the grizzly site. They looked at the burned out warehouse intently and one woman in the group sobbed.

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