0429 GMT November 21, 2018
Relatives of dozens of people missing in the Friday night blaze in Oakland, near San Francisco, endured an anxious wait for news. Nine people have been confirmed dead so far, AFP reported.
The converted two-story warehouse was used by artists as a living and work space but had no license for this, officials said, nor for the electronic dance party under way when the blaze broke out. The cause of the fire was not yet known.
Firefighters said the building seemed to have no sprinklers or smoke detectors.
Orange flames shot through the roof as the fire burned for hours and thick smoke billowed into the sky. The roof collapsed onto the second floor, which officials said was connected to the ground floor only by a makeshift system of wooden pallets.
Firefighters had to withdraw from the building to shore it up when part of the fragile structure began to move.
Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s department said Saturday evening that about two dozen people who were reported missing had been located.
But at least two dozen more remain missing, he said.
"We don't know how far into the process we are, because we don't absolutely have a number of people that we know are deceased inside of there," Kelly said.
An official at the sheriff's office who declined to be named said early Sunday the death toll could rise to 40 or higher.
The fire was described as the deadliest incident in Oakland since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in northern California, which killed 63 people.
Fire in Massachusetts
Also in Cambridge, Massachusetts, firefighters were battling a major, multiple-alarm fire of several buildings, the city's fire department said on Twitter, Reuters reported.
At least one building was ablaze at Berkshire and Vandine Streets, the Cambridge Fire Department said in a string of tweets.
The Boston Globe and local WCVB-TV reported that 10 alarms had been struck and that several buildings, as well as cars, were on fire.
Images posted WCVB's website showed the street and sidewalk engulfed in flames, billowing thick black smoke, as firefighters poured water onto them from a truck.