Investigators confirmed that there are 36 dead, according to CNN, based on the remains found in the Oakland, California warehouse that burned down during a weekend party and dozens more expected to be recovered.
At least 70% of the scene has been carefully searched by investigators, but face the grim prospect of finding more dead bodies in the rubble based on accounts of family members who reported missing loved ones that may have been trapped in the fire.
The Oakland fire, believed to be electrical in nature, occurred close to midnight Saturday in an old warehouse that served as a venue for an electronic rave party attended by what was estimated to be more than a hundred partygoers.
The gutted warehouse building, known as the Ghost Ship, also housed several artist- residents that became a sanctuary for their crafts. The building is mostly made of wood reinforced with concrete and metal foundations and ceiling beams.
Firefighters say that this has been the deadliest fire in the city's history in many years. The 1991 Oakland Hills fire that claimed 25 dead pale in comparison to this recent incident, according to Melinda Drayton, Oakland City battalion fire chief.
"We had firefighters with basically coveralls and buckets and shovels taking bits of debris out into the vacant lot to be loaded into dump trucks and removed to an off-site location," Drayton said. Families and loved ones of the Oakland fire are also eagerly waiting for the remains to be found, with victims ranging from teenagers to adults.
Even after the fire was put out Saturday, firefighters and emergency medical responders were not given the signal to enter the area as it has been deemed unsafe. The top roof of the building collapsed on to the second floor, which then crashed through to parts of the ground level.
So far, authorities have confirmed the identities of eight of those dead in the fire, while they are still validating some of the identities. Investigators are also hoping to get more DNA evidence to further shed light on identities of most, if not all, of those who died in the Oakland fire. There were who survived the incident by escaping through the few windows and doors of the building.
Authorities are also is urging those who believe may have any of their loved ones at the warehouse party to preserve DNA evidence that could help them in matching DNA samples to the victims' identities.
Survivors recounted that one of the reasons for the number of casualties is due to the fire was consuming the building quickly, apparently due to the wooden components built in with the structure. Many of those trapped and burned inside were also not able to make an escape due the roof and upper floors collapsing in.