Coronado native, music therapist, teacher, teens among Oakland w - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Coronado native, music therapist, teacher, teens among Oakland warehouse fire victims

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP/ CBS 8) — A therapist who used music to help kids cope with trauma. A woman who taught at a Montessori school. An artist who could make friends with anyone.

These were some of the people killed when flames ripped through a converted Oakland warehouse during a dance party Friday night. The death toll from the fire climbed to 36 on Monday.

Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said the victims also included 17-year-olds and people from Europe and Asia. Here's a closer look at who they were:

EXTRAORDINARY CO-WORKER

Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, made a warm impression on friends and colleagues in California and Rhode Island as a musician, mentor and community advocate who most recently worked for an independent publisher.

Berkeley, California-based publisher Counterpoint Press said Monday it was devastated by the loss of an "extraordinary co-worker and a true friend."

"Whether he was recommending new music to listen to (and it was always so good), regaling us with tales of the bowling alley, offering his beloved truck for a ride if anyone needed it or sharing his much-appreciated opinions about a jacket or manuscript, he made everyone feel like they were his friend," the company wrote in a social media post. "He was kind, considerate, hilarious."

Gomez-Hall was a 2013 graduate of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he concentrated in American Studies. The university on Monday said he "played an integral role" in the school's Swearer Center for Public Service. He volunteered to teach at an elementary school while an undergraduate and later helped run an after-school program.

He also became well-known in Providence's music scene for playing guitar and singing in the two-man band Nightmom.

Gomez-Hall recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. He was originally from Southern California and graduated from Coronado High School.

Gomez-Hall, 25, was among the first victims to be identified Sunday. Gomez-Hall grew up in Coronado and one of his friends said he was one amazing man who even at a young age was impressive to say the least.

“It was like no no no, anyone but him. He's the best person and the least deserving of this,” said Maddie White.

White was a childhood friend and said he could do it all. He was athletic, smart, and a prodigy when it came to playing music. 

“Nick was one of those people who was genuinely good at everything,” continued White. “And made everything look so easy. But when you met him you wouldn't know it because he was so easy going and humble.”

PASSIONATE MUSIC THERAPIST

Travis Hough, 35, believed music healed people, including himself.

Hough was an experimental electronic artist behind Ghost of Lightning, a project in which he created music to explore and understand his own psyche, said Michelle Campbell, founder of Mixtape, an artist management company based in Oakland.

Hough worked by day as a therapist in schools in the Bay area, using music to help children cope with trauma, Campbell said.

"Really his passion was his work in helping find ways to use music as a means of healing," Campbell said.

Hough played bass and keyboard and was a performance artist who was inspired by Prince and other male performers "who wear ruffles, glitter and makeup," she said. His shows included orbs of rhythmically pulsating light.

He enjoyed a good meal with family and friends and hiking through northern California's Redwood forests.

"He was definitely a radiant light," Campbell said.

'TOTAL GOOFBALL'

Cash Askew, a 22-year-old musician from Oakland, was kind, gentle and a "total goofball," said her girlfriend, Anya Taylor.

The couple met about a year ago at a concert in Oakland and connected through their love of music.

Taylor told the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/2gZc0Qu) she rushed to the scene after hearing about the blaze, but "all we could do was stand there."

Leisa Baird Askew said her daughter grew up in a musical and artistic family.

Cash was one of two members of the band Them Are Us Too. She had been performing with bandmate Kennedy Ashlyn since 2013. The duo met while studying at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Ashlyn said Askew recently started becoming "her best self" after she came out as transgender about two years ago.

TEACHER, GARDENER

Sara Hoda, 30, of Walnut Creek, was a "sweet person" who gardened and taught at a Montessori school, friend Carol Crewdson told the Los Angeles Times.

Crewdson, 33, met Hoda in 2010 when they started a collective where artists and creatives could stay, avoiding the San Francisco Bay Area's high rent.

They lost touch after the collective shut down. But Crewdson said while it was operating, Hoda was very active in the collective process.

HEART OF OAKLAND

Friends called Ara Jo a vibrant artist and community organizer who could make friends with anyone, anywhere.

Jo, 29, grew up in Los Angeles and was living in Oakland. Authorities notified her family of her death Monday. Her parents flew in from South Korea.

"She's a typical artist. She's got more causes than she has energy, even though she has a lot of energy," said her boyfriend, Terry Ewing.

Ewing said one of her latest causes was to raise money and awareness for American Indians and others protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline Project in North Dakota.

Friends mourned Jo on social media, calling her the heart of Oakland.

UNIQUE STYLE

Donna Kellogg, 32, of Oakland, was described as energetic and intelligent by friends and co-workers.

Josh Howes, an ex-boyfriend, said Kellogg wanted to be a healer, the East Bay Times reported. He said she was studying nutrition.

Kellogg worked at Highwire Coffee Roasters, where founder Robert Myers said she had just cut her hair and was on the brink of changes. He said all her co-workers enjoyed connecting with her through their shared interests in coffee and her quirky sense of style.

"I loved that she had a belt with her name on it and would wear it to work," Myer said.

LIKE A BROTHER

Peter Wadsworth was thoughtful, caring and always willing to lend a hand, his friend Tammy Tasoff said.

Tasoff, 29, said Wadsworth looked out for her, doing little things that made her life easier. He would organize her messy files, give her advice and fix her computer if she needed help, said Tasoff, a dental student.

He bought video games because he knew she loved them, and he would often watch her play, she said.

"Usually he'd say, 'Let's play video games,' and then he'd say, 'No, I just want to watch you play,'" she said, sobbing. "He'd make me food. He took really good care of me. He was like my big brother."

OTHER VICTIMS

The city of Oakland also identified David Clines, 35, of Oakland, and Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, of Hayward, as victims.

Officials said they have identified yet another victim but are withholding the name because the person was 17 years old.

One of the people killed was the son of a local deputy, Kelly said at a news conference Sunday. He did not release the name.

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Many friends and family members were still anxiously awaiting word of their missing loved ones as the laborious search for remains continued. Some gathered outside a sheriff's office for news.

LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP

Among the missing are Alex Ghassan and his fiancée, Hanna Henrikka Ruax.

Ghassan is a director and producer who worked with Spike Lee and Talib Kweli. He also is the father of twin toddlers.

Ruax is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur and activist visiting from Helsinki, Finland. She arrived in Oakland in late November.

The pair had been dating long-distance, and Ghassan was preparing to move to Europe, said his roommate Vikram Babu. "He was fed up with the U.S.," Babu said.

Ghassan previously lived in Orange, New Jersey. He has lived in Oakland on and off for about a year, Babu said.

Ghassan's mother, Emilie Grandchamps, told WABC-TV, that Ghassan often went out of his way to help other artists.

Before the fire, Ghassan posted video of the warehouse party on Instagram. "Oakland reminds me of #JerseyCity so much at times," he wrote.

Ruax, meanwhile, is a social justice activist who organized a large protest in Finland after a neo-Nazi rally in that European country, Babu said. "She is very gentle," he said.

Ruax's Instagram account is filled with playful photos of her and Ghassan. Last week, she posted a selfie with Ghassan where both made funny faces into the camera.

"Sent this pic to my mumz after arriving home to my boo," she wrote. "Home sweet home!"

'SO SUPPORTIVE TO US'

Barrett Clark, 35, was a popular sound engineer at the San Francisco club The Bottom of the Hill. And his friends say he appeared to be everywhere.

Parker T. Gibbs, chief operating officer at Magnolia Media Productions, said when he'd walk into a rave full of strangers, he'd always spot Clark. "I knew where I'd be for the rest of the night," Gibbs said. "Right next to him."

Authorities have listed Clark among the missing.

Friends say the Santa Rosa native was a sound engineer and DJ who was a "standup guy" and appeared always ready to help musicians and fellow DJs.

"Mourning Barrett Clark -- so supportive to us," composer and musician Holly Herndon tweeted Monday. "Played mesmeric live techno. Best sound engineer. Always laughing & making things work for ppl."

Lynn Schwarz, co-owner of The Bottom of the Hill, said Clark was the engineer she hired to impress popular bands.

"You couldn't shock the guy," Schwarz said. "He had all kinds of friends."

PHOTOGRAPHER WHO LOVED MUSIC

Friends and family were holding out hope that photographer Amanda Allen, 34, would be found safe.

The Chelmsford, Massachusetts, native is a dancer with a passion for music, loved ones told The Lowell Sun.

"We are all praying for a miracle and coming together as a family," said her mother, Linda Smith Regan.

Allen's husband, Andy Kershaw, a DJ, called her vibrant and magnetic.

Allen graduated from Bridgewater State University in 2004. She and Kershaw moved to San Francisco from Boston in 2008.

Chelmsford native Shannon Fisher said Allen took ballet as a child and later embraced "that underground musical life." Fisher described Allen as smart and funny, with a laugh that comes easily.

A photography website belonging to Allen says she shoots portraits and events.

A BEAUTIFUL SOUL

Kershaw said his friend and fellow DJ Johnny Igaz also was unaccounted for.

Igaz reportedly was playing a set when the fire broke out. He was listed on Facebook as a record buyer at Green Apple Books and Music in San Francisco.

His Facebook page was littered with tearful posts from friends who called him a beautiful soul and a true friend.

HER TRUE SELF

Riley Fritz, 29, a musician and artist from Connecticut, recently moved to San Francisco to be with friends, according to her brother, Ben Fritz.

"She was a kind and beautiful person who had the strength to be her true self even when she knew that was not an easy path," Ben Fritz, 39, told The Associated Press. He said she appeared to be the "happiest she had been in a few years."

Ben Fritz said the family was notified Sunday night that Riley, also known as Feral Pines, likely was killed in the fire.

Their father, Bruce Fritz, told the San Francisco Chronicle he was flying to Oakland on Monday to identify the body. He said he would be joined by Ben Fritz, who lives in Los Angeles.

Riley Fritz graduated from Staples High School in Westport in 2005 and the School for the Visual Arts in Manhattan in 2010. She lived in several places before moving to the Bay Area, according to her family.

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Associated Press writers Janie Har in Oakland, Russell Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Matt O'Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

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