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Memorials Scheduled For 2 Artists Killed In West Oakland Fire Saturday

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Memorials have been scheduled this weekend for two artists killed in a fire at a former armory building in West Oakland early last Saturday morning.

A memorial for 27-year-old Davis Letona will be held at Chapel of the Chimes at 4499 Piedmont Ave. at 1 p.m. Saturday.

A celebration of the life of 36-year-old Daniel "Moe" Thomas will be held at Classic Cars West at 411 26th St. at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Letona and Thomas were both found dead in the wreckage of a three-alarm fire that started in an upstairs apartment in the 600 block of 24th Street shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday, fire officials said.

The former armory building had been split into two buildings that shared a common roof and the fire spread from one building to the other. The second building was heavily damaged, displacing more than two dozen people, according to the fire department.

The buildings housed numerous artists, musicians and political activists, including political publishing house AK Press.

Letona was an aspiring filmmaker who would spend his mornings before work writing screenplays at Farley's Coffee. He also worked in restaurants and was passionate about cooking, according to longtime friend Alex Ramos.

He grew up in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area in his late teens, Ramos said.

"He was always so positive, had a great sense of humor and seemed to come around for friends, family and strangers when they were in need of support," Ramos said.

Thomas was a mixed media artist who studied at San Francisco State University and had his work most recently displayed at the McLoughlin Gallery in San Francisco.

"When asked to explain my work, I hesitate because of the personal nature, but feel that the emotions and feelings they can illicit are common to us all, alienation, lust, sadness, curiosity, and love to name a few,"

Thomas wrote in his artist's biography.

Letona's family and friends have established a memorial fund for him at In addition to the memorials this weekend,

Berkeley music venue 924 Gilman has scheduled a benefit show for the fire victims on May 9.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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