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Oakland fire: Family and friends turn to social media to find loved ones

Concerned family and friends of the two dozen people still missing after a deadly fire ravaged a warehouse hosting an electronic music show in Oakland, California, have turned to social media to help find loved ones and offer support.

The blaze, which broke out Friday night in the two-story building that housed artist studios and events, killed at least nine people, officials said.

Officials estimated at least 100 people were at the music show, which a Facebook page called the “Golden Donna 100% Silk 2016 West Coast Tour.”

That Facebook page has since become a clearing house for information where people are posting names and photos of attendees and inquiring about their whereabouts.

One woman wrote that her son “is missing still. as time goes on reality is slowly clawing its way into our hearts. there are no words……..”

Another woman wrote, “My cousin is missing, we’re worried sick. Sending love to everybody affected by this tragedy.”

Showgoers who made it out of the warehouse safely are also using the page to let people know they’re safe.

John Evanofski wrote on the Facebook page: “I arrived just as the first fire trucks were pulling in. The place was already ablaze. There were huge flames coming out of the roof. And tons of billowing black smoke.

“On the sidewalk, where many of my friends who attended were huddled, you could feel the heat of the flames. Most of us were crying or unable to react. It was so hot and so terrible knowing that so many of us were still inside.”

Several commenters also offered assistance. “Folks who need a place to stay? I have places. Please send me a message. We are here for you, you are not alone,” one person wrote.

To assist in the search efforts, Facebook activated its safety check page that allows users to easily notify friends that they are okay.

The City of Oakland has also offered its assistance in locating missing persons.

A message on the city’s official Twitter account reads: “We’re here to help. If you need information about a loved one in last night’s fire, please call 510-382-3000. @ACSOSheriffs #oaklandfire”

Meanwhile, local organizations have begun raising funds to assist victims of the blaze.

Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit organization based in neighboring San Francisco, set up a YouCaring page to raise funds to support the Bay Area arts community. The page has so far raised more than $50,000.

The Oakland A’s baseball team also set up a YouCaring fundraiser and pledged to match donations up to $20,000 — a goal contributors have already surpassed.