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Oakland warehouse fire: What we know about the victims

OAKLAND, Calif. — A budding musician. A truck-lover and bowling alley denizen. A singer whose adoring fans called him Nex Luguolo. A 17-year-old choir singer.

These are among the 36 people who lost their lives Friday night in a fire at an Oakland, California, warehouse where an electronic dance party was being held.

It’s one of the city’s deadliest blazes and the worst nightclub fire in more than a decade in the US, in terms of the number of victims. In 2003, 100 people died in a fire at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island, after a band’s pyrotechnics ignited the club’s ceiling.

Authorities said they have positively or tentatively identified 33 victims, but not all their names have been released.

Here’s what we know so far about the victims:

Cash Askew

Askew, a 22-year-old musician who lived in Oakland, played in the band Them Are Us Too. Dais Records, based in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, released the band’s debut album, “Remain,” in 2015.

The label issued a statement about Askew, calling her “one of the most talented and loving people we’ve ever known.”

“We will never be the same. Completely devastated by the loss of Cash Askew,” the statement reads. “Please keep her and her family in your thoughts, along with all those lost in the Oakland tragedy.”

Em Bohlka

Bohlka, 33, of Oakland battled gender dysphoria for years and only recently came out as a woman to a handful of close friends and family, her father wrote on social media.

“I just wish with all my heart that she had more time to live her life as she truly wanted,” Jack D. Bohlka said of his daughter. “My heart goes out to the entire trans community who feel as if they must gather in unsafe buildings to experience their community and celebrate their identity.”

Friend Kassidy Heal posted to Facebook, “She was Matt Bohlka to most of you, but she was Auntie Em to my kids who loved her so much and didn’t care how she identified herself, they just wanted to be able to see her… . I have changed my pronouns and adjectives because I know that is how she wanted it. I really sucked at it when I saw her last and I told her I was uncomfortable because I kept saying dude and man. She gently rubbed my shoulder and said, ‘the fact that you are even trying means the world to me.'”

David Cline

Cline, 24, lived in Oakland at the time of his death but was originally from Santa Monica.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau confirmed his death in a statement.

Cline’s brother, Neil Cline, wrote on Facebook, “We just received word that my brother David Cline passed away in the Oakland Fire. To all of you, thank you. Thank you for your kindness, help and love. To David, we love you. You will be with us always.”

Chelsea Faith Dolan

Musician Chelsea Faith Dolan, 33, had traveled to Oakland to perform at the warehouse, her grandmother Marion Dolan said.

“That was her life. Music was her life. Music was everything to her she just lived for it,” she told CNN affiliate WIVB.

“She traveled all over the country to play. Whenever there was anything going on with electronic music, she was there.”

Chelsea had been living in San Francisco.

“I know she’s gone. But it’s still hard to accept. She was just an upbeat girl, she was just always smiling, I never saw her down,” Dolan told WIVB.

Riley Fritz

Riley Fritz, 29, grew up in Connecticut and moved to California a few months ago, her father told CNN affiliate WTIC.

Fritz said that one of the friends she had been living with called him to say that his daughter had been at the party.

He said his daughter began identifying as a woman in college and went by Riley. She performed under the stage name “Feral Pines.”

Friend Gabriel Ohara Durkee wrote on Facebook, “Rest in peace Riley Fritz. You were truly one of a kind. I will always remember the way you threw around your bass in the earlier days of Host, dancing in the living room of the Stolen Sleeves Collective, and sharing our genuine love of good and admittedly terrible music together.

“This is the most tragic and shocking news I’ve heard in some time. My thoughts go out to the other victims, families and friends of other victims of this weekend’s tragic warehouse fire in Oakland. Be safe. Love you.”

Nick Gomez-Hall

Gomez-Hall, 25, lived in Coronado and worked at the Berkeley-based publishing house Counterpoint Press, where colleagues called him “an extraordinary coworker and a true friend.”

The company released a statement on Gomez-Hall’s death on its Facebook page:

“Counterpoint is devastated over the loss of our co-worker and dear friend Nick Gomez-Hall due to the Oakland Ghost Ship fire,” it reads. “From the second Nick started at Counterpoint, he became part of our family. Whether he was recommending new music to listen to (and it was always so good), regaling us with tales of the bowling alley, offering his beloved truck for a ride if anyone needed it, or sharing his much appreciated opinions about a book jacket or manuscript, he made everyone feel like they were his friend. He was kind, considerate, hilarious. … In short, he was an essential part of our team.

Sara Hoda

Hoda, 30, was an elementary school teacher at Urban Montessori in Oakland.

Carol Crewdson posted on Facebook about her former roommate’s love of children and her compassion.

“Sara was a principled person, she was compassionate, decent, and honorable. She didn’t do drugs and she wasn’t a drinker. She was a teacher and a gardener, working at a Montessori school. She was a good hardworking person, she loved children and the Earth, and she put those principles into actions,” Crewdson wrote. “She didn’t deserve to go like that. After reading an account of what it was like to get out of there, all I can hope is that it happened quickly.”

Crewdson knew her friend was attending the party and wrote that her truck was found parked outside the venue. She kept hoping if she posted on Facebook about Hoda she would learn she survived.

“I’m sorry loves, but it looks like she went with the flames. I’ll keep you posted on what happens next,” Crewdson wrote.” I’m feeling pretty beat up about it … Sara was a good person. She deserves to be remembered.”

Travis Hough

Hough, 35, was a musician and artist from Oakland.

He composed and performed very high energy, dance-oriented music, his artistic manager Brendan Dreaper told CNN.

Hough had previously been a glass blower and his “day job” was working in expressive art therapy, helping kids resolve their emotional issues through art.

The musician had been a “super positive person, always looking on the bright side, always wanting to make a situation fun and explore the absurd,” Dreaper said. They had been in discussions with a record label and had talked about Hough’s future plans the day before the fire, he said.

Hough had been at the Ghost Ship because he was part of a group of musicians who supported each other and had known some of those performing, Dreaper said.

Donna Kellogg

Kellogg, 32, went to the art show probably to blow off a little steam after hitting the books at the end of her school term, her friend Josh Howes said.

Howes got a text message from Kellogg’s stepfather that she didn’t make it out.

Howes spoke to her by phone a week ago, and had seen her a week before that. Kellogg loved house shows, and the underground open art space would have been something she would have enjoyed, Howes said.

Susan Slocum told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her daughter was drummer in a band. Kellogg was so eclectic that her family called her “the Bohemian,” Slocum said.

“She was in, my opinion, beautiful, smart, independent, strong, courageous, and she was very artistic,” Slocum said.

She added: “She was a little redhead with a lot of fire and energy, but … a very loving young woman, too.”

Kellogg had just gotten a haircut and told her mother she looked like Tinkerbell, according to Slocum. Slocum said her daughter’s hair fit her personality. She would “be like Tinkerbell, with a little bit of spunkiness, too,” she said.

Kellogg loved her music. Her family believes she was dancing on the second floor with friends when the fire started. Slocum said: “She died doing something she enjoyed doing.”

Slocum said the family lost their 18-year-old son in 2009.

“So, we’ve been down this road before,” she said.

Slocum added: “You find the strength … that you never knew you had.”

Draven McGill

McGill, 17, sang in the Pacific Boys’ Choir and was the youngest victim of the fire.

“It is both painful and poignant that the victims’ lives were lost while seeking community and connection through a shared love of art and creative expression,” San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Myong Leigh wrote in a letter to teachers, identifying McGill as a victim. “We mourn especially deeply for our student, the fire’s youngest victim, and with and for his family.”

McGill’s former teacher, Rachel Cohn, posted on Facebook.

“I am remembering clearer than ever his laugh, and his intense eyes in class — always tuned in, seeking, curious, craving more,” Cohn wrote. “Honoring Draven in my thoughts and prayers.”

McGill was an 11th grade student at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.

His friend and choirmate Julian Gandhi wrote that McGill’s death was devastating.

“A friend of mine from the choir, Draven McGill has passed away in the Oakland fire. It is a hard loss to me and many other people in the PBA community. I send my prayers to his family and friends. To a lot of you, this year has been a rough one. But the good thing is that we have each other and that’s what matters. Rest In Peace Draven.”

Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye

Tanouye, 31, was remembered by colleagues at Shazam, the music app maker.

“The Shazam family is mourning the loss of our amazing Kiyomi Tanouye in the #OaklandFire,” the company tweeted. “We love you and will never forget you Kiyomi.”

Longtime friend Lara Fowler went to Mills College with Tanouye, although she had not seen the Oakland resident in a while.

“She had friends from all different walks off life. She was completely nonjudgmental and loving to everyone she met,” Fowler recalled. Tanouye was a creative artist who marched to her own beat, she said.

“She had all these great hairstyles, constantly reinventing her hair, had artsy clothes,” said Fowler. “She worked at this quirky little magazine store called Issues, so I’d go in and ask if she was working. She couldn’t be pigeonholed; she was her own person always.”

Brandon Chase Wittenauer

Wittenauer, 32, was a prolific musician who went by the stage name Nex Luguolo. The Hayward, California, resident was known to friends as Chase, and was part of a musical duo called Symbiotix.Fungi. He was the band’s lead vocalist, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Wittenauer lived in Nicaragua for a time as a child, according to his Facebook page. After the fire, Wittenauer’s car was still parked outside the warehouse. His father posted a picture of it on his Facebook page, writing, “Please don’t let it be true.”

His friends share memories of the singer on Facebook.

“I woke up to this beautiful picture Saturday morning, no clue that disaster was around the corner. Just before opening Facebook the news feed on my cell was that of the Oakland fire, never ever putting the two together. And now here we are torn to pieces unable to fix it. Life can be so cruel. I feel selfish to say I want him back, i want this not to be true. I want to be back on California. I hate all this pain. Life is just not fair. I love you Chase! Your Tia!,” friend Enid Dais wrote.

Another friend, Amanda Fish, wrote: “I love you so much Chase! You are the most kindhearted, likeable, and artistic person anyone that knows you has ever met. I am so lucky to know you and that you know me. I love you Chase! I cannot say that enough.”

Many more victims

CNN is pursuing additional information on the following victims, who have been named by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office’s Coroner’s Bureau:

Micah Danemayer, 28, Oakland

Alex Ghassan, 35, Oakland

Michela Gregory, 20, South San Francisco

Edmund Lapine, 34, Oakland

Jennifer Morris, 21, Foster City

Benjamin Runnels, 32, Oakland