City leaders declare local emergency for deadly warehouse fire

The Oakland City Council voted at a special meeting today to declare a local emergency in the wake of a fire at a warehouse in the city’s Fruitvale district last Friday night that killed 36 people.

The council’s action, which was expected, ratified city leaders’ proclamation of a local emergency on Tuesday. City officials said the vote is an important step in recovering from the fire because under the California Disaster Assistance Act, the city of Oakland may be eligible for reimbursement of up to 75 percent of qualifying response and recovery expenses related to the fire at the “Ghost Ship” warehouse at 1315 31st Avenue.

They said qualifying expenses generally include labor, equipment, materials and other expenses related to extinguishing the fire and recovering the victims from the scene.

The Oakland Fire Department’s Emergency Management Services Division will develop an initial damage estimate to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for consideration for Disaster Assistance Act funding, according to city officials.

Staff from the city’s Economic and Workforce Development Department has already begun distributing an estimated disaster economic injury worksheet for businesses, city officials said.

Once at least five businesses have completed and returned the worksheets, the city can submit the paperwork to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for review and submission to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will consider the worksheets for economic injury disaster loans, according to city officials.

There’s no maximum on the number of businesses who are eligible to apply for assistance.

Artists who may have operated a business at the warehouse at 1315 31st Avenue may be eligible for SBA loans and are encouraged to contact Aliza Gallo, the city’s Economic Development Manager, at agallo@oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7405.

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