Ohio native killed in Oakland warehouse fire

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OAKLAND, CA (WCMH/AP)– Billy Dixon, 35, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio was one of 36 people killed in the warehouse fire in Oakland, California.

A friend of Dixon said he was a talented musician and computer engineer.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill told WJW, It just hurts. Billy was a special kid.  That’s all I need to say … he was special.”

Recovery efforts at the warehouse have ended and the death toll stands at 36, officials said Wednesday.

The news comes a day after Oakland officials declared a local state of emergency due. The Oakland City Council is slated to ratify the state of emergency on Thursday. This will begin the process for state and federal aid.

A refrigerator was a potential source of the fire, but it was too soon to say for sure, said Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

“We have no indication that this was intentionally set,” she said.

Tearful family members visited the scene Tuesday and exchanged hugs hours after the founder of the arts collective that used the warehouse stood near the gutted building and said he was “incredibly sorry.”

Derick Ion Almena said he was at the site to put his face and his body in front of the scene, but he deflected blame for the blaze, saying he signed a lease for the building that “was to city standards supposedly.”

“Everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together,” Almena told the “Today Show” on NBC.

The fire broke out during a dance party Friday night in the cluttered warehouse. It had been converted to artists’ studios and illegal living spaces, and former denizens said it was a death trap of piled wood, furniture, snaking electrical cords and only two exits.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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