Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fire at AK Press & 1984 Building, Two Dead


March 21--OAKLAND -- Two people are dead and dozens of people were left without a home after a fire ravaged an apartment building early Saturday in West Oakland, a fire official said.
The two adult victims were found dead inside one unit of the building and about 30 others have been displaced, Oakland fire Battalion Chief Geoff Hunter said. The fire broke out about 3 a.m. at a former armory now divided into live/work units in two separate buildings, stretching from 669 and 671 24th St. to 674 23rd St., between San Pablo Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Hunter said.
As the fire grew to a three-alarm blaze, it quickly spread through the roof, which the buildings share, Hunter said. Fire crews also had trouble accessing the fire, he said. Firefighters had the fire under control at 4:10 a.m.
The brick building is home to activists and artists and to AK Press and 1984 Printing, which are both located on the first-floor, 23rd Street side of the building. Both companies suffered significant water damage to their book collections and to the businesses. Employees of AK Press and 1984 Printing were busy Saturday morning pushing water out with brooms.
AK Press describes itself on its website as a worker-run, collectively managed, anarchist publishing and distribution company. According to its website, 1984 Printing offers offset printing and digital copier printing on recycled papers, soy-based and recycled ink and animal-free book binding.
Jose Palafox, 41, who has lived in the building for about six years, said he was awakened by the sound of smoke alarms around 3:50 a.m. His unit was not damaged by the fire.
"It's pretty insane, but everybody in the community is helping out," Palafox said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at 3901 Broadway to help people affected by the fire.
David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him at 510-208-6453. Follow him at
Copyright 2015 - Contra Costa Times

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