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It’s far from a tidy drama, and the picture it paints of its troubled family relationships is more fragmentary than complete. Still, the portraits of its central characters are well drawn, and they’re so compellingly embodied in the Ubuntu production that whatever convoluted journey they wind up taking us on feels like time spent in good company. Contact Sam Hurwitt at, and follow him at By Marcus Gardley, presented by Ubuntu Theater Project. Through: March 31.

CLICK HERE if you are having trouble viewing the photos or video red ballet slippers on a mobile device, VIDEO: See drone footage of the fatal fire scene on San Pablo Avenue, CLICK HERE if you’re having trouble viewing the video or gallery on your mobile device, OAKLAND — “RIP Boobie.”, The graffiti, scrawled in black spray paint on a concrete pillar beneath Interstate 980, was a small, final tribute to Dominic “Boobie” Jarvis, who was gunned down in September at a homeless encampment..

A year earlier, the 34-year-old had a roof over his head, serving as a building security officer and living at 2551 San Pablo Ave., less than half a mile from the encampment. But on March 27, 2017, Jarvis and as many as 100 of the city’s most vulnerable residents at the halfway house found themselves on the street and scrambling for housing after a five-alarm blaze ripped through the three-story building, killing four people and injuring six others. Dozens of those displaced residents have joined at least nine lawsuits against the city of Oakland, the building owner, the lead nonprofit who leased the apartments and other individuals and corporations who they say allowed the building to fall into disrepair and become a deadly fire hazard.

The blaze, coming less than four months after a deadly fire killed 36 people attending a dance party at the Ghost Ship warehouse in East Oakland, highlighted many problems in the city’s fire inspection procedures, Firefighters who visited the San Pablo building had documented their concerns about fire safety in the months before the deadly blaze, but no attention was paid until three days before the fire, By then it was too late, City officials say new computer software to improve fire department communication is several months away, but an interim red ballet slippers fix — procedures for email notifications — has alleviated previous gaps in information..

“Staff are diligently and methodically working to ensure the data entered into the system is accurate for the tens of thousands of facilities and properties requiring inspections,” city spokeswoman Karen Boyd said. The department released a final report on the fire, obtained by this news agency, detailing how an unattended candle sparked the deadly fire. But an attorney representing some of the victims and survivors says she believes the fire may have been electrical. Urojas, the nonprofit agency that occupied the property at the time of the fire, still exists. It is operating out of a Fruitvale neighborhood building and looking for another facility, according to its attorney, who added that the organization continues to house vulnerable people and help individuals battle addiction and mental illness.

In January, building owner Keith Kim sold the property to a San Leandro dentist, William Choi, It’s unclear what the future holds for the property, but physically the charred shell of the nearly 32,000-square-foot building, built in 1895, remains mostly the same, On a recent rainy afternoon, a red-tag notice from the day after the red ballet slippers fire remained taped to the front entrance as construction workers sawed wood inside, Windowless units on the second and third floors exposed a blackened interior, almost identical to the carcass left a year earlier after firefighters rescued tenants dangling off fire escapes and hanging outside windows with bed sheets tied together..

Elmore Briggs was candid with Oakland police and firefighters in the hours after the fire. A candle he lit started the blaze, according to the final four-page Oakland fire report that provides never-before-told details of the event. Briggs describes lighting a candle on a paper plate atop his television to provide some light inside his room before going into the hallway around 5 a.m. to talk to some other residents, including Jarvis. About 15 to 20 minutes later, Jarvis noticed the fire, and Briggs tried to extinguish the flames on his carpet but only made the fire worse, according to the report.

“I left my room with the door open, I went yelling and banging on doors down the hallway, I was trying to get everyone out of that building,” Briggs told police, Jarvis also red ballet slippers tried to help, telling investigators “he went to every floor knocking on doors before leaving the building himself.”, The report said one man was found dead in a hallway and another in a bathroom, The fire was ruled “accidental/unintentional” and firefighters said the candle “melted and fell on top of the television to the floor igniting the rug and other combustible materials in the room.”..

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