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Musicians, student among first list of Oakland fire victims

OAKLAND Victims of a fire that destroyed a converted warehouse in California this weekend, killing at least 33 people, included a woman working her way through culinary school, at least three musicians and a teacher.

Their lives all ended suddenly when the performance space and artist community known as the Ghost Ship, which the city said was permitted only as a warehouse, turned into an inferno late Friday in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, east of San Francisco.

Officials say they have found 33 bodies so far and expect to find more.

Oakland officials released the first list of victims late on Sunday, seven California adults in their 20s and 30s and a 17-year-old whose name was withheld.

Among those identified were Donna Kellogg, 32, who was going to culinary school while working at a Berkeley coffee shop, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing family and friends.

Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, who lived in the nearby suburb of Hayward, was an electronic music artist, the newspaper said, quoting a cousin, Ariel Treya Gonzalez of Berkeley. Wittenauer also went by the name Nex Iuguolo, the newspaper said. His SoundCloud profile contained several electronic music tracks.

Often referred to as “Chase” by friends on his social media accounts, Wittenauer lived in Oakland, according to his Facebook page. The page included several photos of him sporting a distinctive mass of curly hair and performing in concert.

“If talent was what got you paid, my friends and I would be millionaires,” he wrote on Twitter on Sept. 26.

Travis Hough, 35, was also a musician. A Facebook page that appeared to be his showed that he performed with the Oakland-based band Ghost of Lightning. The Chronicle reported that he also used the name Travis Blitzen.

The page contained several politically left-leaning posts and links to efforts supporting the anti-pipeline protesters at Standing Rock in North Dakota. 

A “Lotsa Helping Hands” web page identified Louisa LeMauviel as Hough’s partner and encouraged friends and loved ones to support her in the wake of his death.

Cash Askew was also a musician, performing with the band Them Are Us Too, according to his Facebook page.

Askew’s most recent post included a plea for donations for a fundraiser to help people who identify as gay and transgender.

“Completely heartbroken to lose such an incredible soul,” Askew’s label, Dais Records, posted on Twitter. “We love you Cash.”

Sara Hoda, 30, of suburban Walnut Creek, was a Montessori teacher who loved yoga and once lived in Mexico City, according to Facebook posts by her friends.

Hoda told friends she was going to the party at the Ghost Ship, according to a Facebook user who goes by the name Carolina Sunshine. Friends and family began to worry when she went missing after the blaze, her truck still parked nearby, the post said.

Another friend, listed on Facebook as Allison Marie Marie, recalled Hoda as a devoted yoga practitioner who could do handstands and loved to ride bikes and cook.

“Sending love and prayers and big hugs,” she wrote.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, Heather Somerville and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco, and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Frank McGurty and Paul Tait)