Oakland warehouse fire: Derick Almena gives interview on TODAY
'I didn't do anything ever in my life that would lead me up to this moment,' says Derick Almena
The manager of the Oakland, California, warehouse that caught on fire Friday appeared on the TODAY show Tuesday morning, but he refused to answer anchors Matt Lauer and Tamron Hall’s pointed questions about the incident, leading to the interview being cut short.
The fire broke out during at party at Ghost Ship, a mixed-use artist space inside of a warehouse, killing at least 36 people. Lauer began the interview by asking if building manager Derick Almena if he’s the man who should be held accountable for the lives lost.
“What am I going to say that? Should I be held accountable?” asked Almena. “I can barely stand here right now.”
However, the anchors continued with their questions and asked him about reports that the building wasn’t up to code. Almena, who was emotional during the entire interview, didn’t answer the questions and kept repeating how sorry he was for what happened.
“I’m only here to say one thing: that I am incredibly sorry and that everything that I did was to make this a stronger, more beautiful community and to bring people together,” said Almena, a father of three. “People didn’t walk through those doors because it was a horrible place. People didn’t seek us out to perform and express themselves because it was a horrible place.”
He continued: “I would rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents! I’d rather let them tear at my flesh than answer these ridiculous questions.”
Lauer decided to end the interview when it became clear that Almena would not answer the questions.
Watch the entire segment below.