Like a driver who staggers from a barroom into his car, or someone who drops a lighted match in a tinder-dry forest, a building owner who disregards obvious safety hazards can be held responsible in a criminal prosecution for the lethal consequences, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The events leading up to this weekend’s horrific Oakland warehouse fire appear to have been rife with warning signals: Residents jammed into a building that had permits only for industrial use. Exposed electrical wires dangling from a ceiling. Illegal generator hookups after a transformer caught fire. No sprinklers or smoke detectors. Complaints to the city that brought out an inspector, who tried to enter on Nov. 17, failed and never returned.