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Oakland "Ghost Ship" fire: ATF probe wraps up, leaving more questions than answers

OAKLAND, Calif. - Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have completed their work at the scene of the Oakland “Ghost Ship” warehouse fire that broke out during a dance party, killing 36 people.

ATF spokeswoman Alexandria Corneiro said Sunday the agency’s team has left the site but that the scene in Oakland is still being secured. The deadliest building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade ripped through the warehouse during a dance party on the night of Dec. 2.

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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 blaze but haven’t reached any conclusions yet.

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

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

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

Snyder said investigators still don’t think the fire was started intentionally and added that investigators may 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.

Also on Sunday, funeral services were held for two victims of the warehouse fire.

Separate funerals were held in the San Francisco Bay Area for video artist Jonathan Bernbaum and the youngest victim, 17-year-old Draven McGill, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Relatives and loved ones described Bernbaum, a 34-year-old Berkeley native and Oakland resident, a smart man who loved all things media, had a penchant for arguing and was a loyal friend and son who kept in touch, the newspaper said.

Services were also held for McGill, the youngest person to die in the blaze. The private services, held at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hayward, included a performance by the Pacific Boychoir Academy, to McGill belonged, the Chronicle reported. His father is Alameda County sheriff’s Deputy Phil McGill.

CBS San Francisco reports family members and friends of those who were killed in the fire are continuing to come to the burned warehouse to see where their loved ones spent their final moments.

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

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