Oakland Warehouse Fire 2016

The Oakland warehouse fire has touched -- and traumatized -- so much of our East Bay community. Every day since the tragedy occurred, I have learned that someone I know knew someone who died. I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to those dynamic, spirited individuals who lost their lives on that otherwise typical Friday evening, and to the thousands of people struggling with unspeakable sadness in the wake of this loss.

My first knowledge of the fire came early that Saturday morning, when I checked the CNN news feed on my computer. I was expecting a momentous update on the Standing Rock crisis; instead the headline screamed, "9 Dead in Oakland Warehouse Fire; Dozens Missing."

Second on the list of missing was Barrett Clark, a shining star in the music industry. Barrett was a client of mine. By all accounts, including mine, he was a talented, bighearted, and truly lovable young man.

In the dark days that followed, the missing were identified a few at a time. Eventually, Barrett was identified. 

My thoughts and heart are with those close to Barrett -- especially his father, who I met several times in the process of searching for Barrett's perfect Victorian home. Many hundreds of people were touched by Barrett -- possibly thousands -- and exponentially more were touched by all the others who died. They were sons and daughters, partners and friends, creative souls and artists in myriad media, and at least one parent. They were the nucleus of the East Bay. Although their absence is palpable and painful, their presence will continue to be felt. Their contribution to Oakland and the Bay Area is indelible, and immeasurable.

Anne Culbertson