New Jersey

NJ Filmmaker and Conn. Woman Killed in Deadly Oakland Warehouse Fire

Alex Ghassan posted video to Instagram that appeared to be from the inside of the warehouse an hour before it caught fire

What to Know

  • New Jersey filmmaker Alex Ghassan was among the missing after a fire at a warehouse party in Oakland killed dozens on Friday night
  • Ghassan posted video to Instagram just an hour before the fire that appeared to show the inside of the warehouse, known as the "Ghost Ship"
  • In Westport, Connecticut, the family of Feral Pines confirmed that she also had died in the devastating blaze

A New Jersey filmmaker and a Connecticut woman were killed in a deadly fire that tore through a warehouse in Oakland, California, during a music festival there on Friday night. 

Filmmaker Alex Ghassan, 35, was on a coroner's list of 10 additional identified victims put out by the city of Oakland on Monday. 

Friends and family of Ghassan had been holding out hope but fearing for the worst on Sunday, less than two days after the blaze killed at least 36 people in what has since been deemed one of the country’s deadliest structure fires.

"We don't know anything. We're all prayerful. We're waiting for answers, we have no answers," his mother Emilie Grandchamps told NBC 4 New York Monday in Orange, New Jersey. 

"It's excruciating to wait for him," said Grandchamps, who was going to fly to California with some form of her son's DNA "so that they can tell me something."

“I’m heartbroken, but I’m trying to stay optimistic,” Richardine Bartee, a friend of Ghassan, said.

But Ghassan's aunt, Junie Moscova, got emotional on Monday — before news of his death broke — as she told NBC 4 New York that she fears it might be time to accept that he won't return.

“The fact that we've tried to call his phone a couple times and it's gone straight to voicemail, and we're not hearing anything specifically from him,” she said. “We're kind of bracing ourselves for whatever the news may be.”

Ghassan posted Instagram video that appears to be from inside the warehouse dance party just an hour before the deadly fire broke out.

Ghassan's fiancee Hannah also has not been seen or heard. A friend of the couple was able to make it out and spoke to Ghassan's family.

"He was really trying to make sure that Alex and Hannah got out, too, but unfortunately by the time he winded up getting out, the ceriling had caved in, and Alex and Hannah were still in the building," said Moscova. 

Ghassan was a director well known in Brooklyn for helping up and coming musicians. He was also a father of two young girls.

"He has so much to live for," she continued, adding Ghassan worked in the Supreme Court in California and had other up-and-coming businesses. "Alex had a lot to live for, not to die for."

Grandchamps called Ghassan a "bull," describing him as a fighter and a fast thinker. 

"My son is absolutely phenomenol," said Grandchamps. "He's an artist at heart, a wonderful dad, a wonderful son, a wonderful friend. And we're waiting. We're waiting. We're just waiting and we're doing our best." 

Dozens of other families are also still anxiously waiting for news about their loved ones. It’s not known how many people were at the warehouse when the fire broke out.

In Westport, Connecticut, the family of Feral Pines received a phone call from the coroner's office Sunday night saying that she had died, according to her father Bruce Fritz. Pines loved art and music and had just moved to Oakland a few months ago.

"She was an amazingly kind and beautiful person who had the strength to be her true self, even when she knew that was not going to be an easy path," sister Amanda Parry told News 12 Connecticut. 

Also missing is Gridden Madden from Morristown, New Jersey, who is an alumnus from UC Berkeley.

Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise. The number of victims was nine on Saturday night — by Sunday it hit 33, and then 36 on Monday, with 33 of them identified. The sheriff's department in Alameda County says it doesn't believe the number of victims will grow drastically. Victims range in age from 17 years old to people in their 30s.

Firefighters are searching night and day through rubble and ash. They said Monday that they had searched about 75 percent of the building.

New concerns have been raised about the warehouse, known as the “Ghost Ship.”

Photos show the artist compound cluttered with wood furniture and art pieces. There were no smoke alarms or sprinklers, and there were only two exits in the building and no easy way to get downstairs from the second floor, where many of the bodies were found.

A criminal investigation was launched Sunday and Oakland officials said something more should have been done.

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