UPDATE: The death toll resulting from the Oakland warehouse party fire on Friday night has risen to 24 since officials’ last report, with the number expected to climb even further as their search of the wreckage continues.

At least nine people were killed and 25 others were unaccounted for after the worst building fire in decades in Oakland tore through a funky, two-story artists collective packed with people attending a music party, authorities said Saturday.

Authorities said they were prepared to deal with as many as 40 deaths from the fire.

The blaze ignited around 11:30 p.m. Friday in the large converted warehouse at 1305 31st Ave. at International Boulevard, in the Fruitvale neighborhood, while as many as 100 people were inside for a performance by the Golden Donna 100 Percent Silk touring electronic dance music show.

Firefighters said some victims were apparently trapped when they couldn’t flee down a makeshift stairwell leading to the second floor that was built out of wooden pallets. There was no evidence the building had a sprinkler system, said Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed.

Authorities were asking those who had information about missing people to contact the Alameda County coroner’s office at (510) 382-3000. The office was preparing to take as many as 40 bodies, said spokesman sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly.

“We’ve done a preliminary search and we are up to nine known fatalities,” Deloach Reed said at the scene. “There’s still a still a lot of the building that needs to be searched.”

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Kelly said most of the victims were in their 20s or 30s. “We did not have a lot of victims go to hospitals,” he said. “It appeared they made it out, or didn’t make it out.”

As the fire engulfed the building north of Interstate 880, people streamed into the street outside. The roof collapsed, and firefighters had difficulty getting inside. By morning, all the victims’ bodies were still inside as crews struggled to assess and clear the scene. An organizer of the event, who only gave his name as John, said he was working at the door when the blaze erupted. He said it started on the ground floor and went up. The only reason he got out was because he was at the exit, he said.

“I watched that building burn for five hours,” he said. “And those people didn’t walk out.”

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