A fire broke out during a party Friday night at a two-story warehouse and artists' studio in Oakland, killing at least nine people and leaving about two dozen missing, the California city's fire chief said.
Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Graves said he fears the death toll could go much higher. "We are preparing for the worst, which would be about 40 people," he told reporters. "It may not be that many. These people could be at the hospital or with friends. That's just the worst case we are preparing for."
Initial reports indicate dozens of people -- perhaps up to 100 -- were in the building when the fire started, according to Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed.
Most of the dead were on the second floor, she said, adding that people would have had difficulty leaving when the fire started because the only stairway to the floor below was made out of pallets.