Local fire chief: There will be more deadly warehouse fires unless people speak up

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON -- Friday night in Oakland, California, what started as a warehouse party, turned into a deadly inferno.

In the following days, more than three dozen bodies were pulled from the rubble.

“It just doesn’t seem that that is a fire that’s survivable, so the reality, I think for all of us, is beginning to set in,” cried the family member of someone who was still unaccounted for Sunday evening.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor told DCW50 the dangerous scenarios start with code violations and a similar situation could easily happen in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding counties.

“It is going to happen again if people don’t tell us when they see this stuff,” said Bashoor.

The fire chief explained, by law, buildings are required to have multiple exits, and must remain under capacity, violating the two regulations are a recipe for disaster.

He explained, in an emergency, panic tends to set in, and in a matter of seconds there can be hundreds of people racing for one exit; That is when people tend to get trampled.

“I’m always looking for the backdoor because the stampede is going to be running toward the front door,” the fire chief told DCW50.

“Just sit for a second, the panic is going to pass you by, then you’ll be able to go to that back door or a secondary exit.  If everyone tries to go at the same time, it becomes chaos,” Chief Bashoor advised.

Underground parties in dangerous buildings that do not meet code tend to be secretive and can be hard for officials to track down. Chief Bashoor said fire departments need the community’s help shutting down establishments that are not meeting code.

You can report unsafe establishments by calling 311.