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Trans Musician Among Dead in Oakland Fire

Cash Askew
Cash Askew

Cash Askew of the band There Are Us Too is among the 36 confirmed dead in the Friday night fire at a warehouse turned performance space.

Transgender musician Cash Askew of the band Them Are Us Too is among the 36 people confirmed dead in the fire at a warehouse turned performance space in Oakland, Calif., over the weekend.

Askew, 22, was one of the several victims identified by law enforcement as of Monday morning, LGBTQ Nation reports. By Monday afternoon, 33 of the 36 dead had been identified and the families of 16 notified, according to CNN. Names will not be released publicly until families receive the news.

The fire broke out Friday night at Ghost Ship, a warehouse that had been converted to provide residential and studio spaces for 20 to 25 artists on the first floor and a performance venue on the second. The record label 100% Silk was hosting Friday's party, attended by an estimated 100 to 200 people.

Two other trans women, Feral Pines and Em Bohlka, are missing and feared dead, Trans Assistance Project founder Scott Wolfcave reported in a Facebook post. There may be other LGBT victims. Wolfcave's organization is raising money to assist families with funeral expenses. Local activists are also helping law enforcement and media correctly identify trans victims.

The building's condition may have contributed to the tragedy. The owner, who lived in the structure, was under investigation for various code violations, and did not have permits to use it as a residence or an event space, LGBTQ Nation reports. The staircase that was the only means of access between the first and second floors was a makeshift combination of pallets and pieces of lumber.

"People familiar with the space said they can't imagine a crowd exiting the space quickly under calm circumstances, let alone during a fire that witnesses said grew quickly," the site reports. The building also lacked sprinklers, according to CNN. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Still, several people said Ghost Ship and venues like it provided a haven for those who did not feel comfortable elsewhere. "If I hadn't had people inviting me to their unconventional venues over the years I would have been dead a long long time ago," folk musician Kimya Dawson wrote on Facebook. "We're not trying to put each other in danger. We are trying to save each other's lives."

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