Local art gallery inspected after Oakland fire

Posted at 12:20 PM, Dec 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-29 15:26:53-05

SAN DIEGO - City officials are cracking down on art galleries in the Barrio Logan area after a fire at an Oakland warehouse claimed the lives of 36 people.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's fire marshal told Team 10 the recent inspection at La Bodega Gallery was prompted by an anonymous tip, not the early December Oakland fire.

"Their initial determination is that we are definitely going to need to replace and fix a lot of the things here in our property," said Sony Lopez-Chavez, assistant manager at La Bodega.

Lopez-Chavez said between the city code and fire departments, they've been given a list of six major things that need to change, including adding a fire sprinkler system and an additional emergency exit.

"For the city to come in and say, this is exactly what you have to do to have this building up to code, we are happy to work with them," said Lopez-Chavez. "We're happy to do this for the community and for the artists."

RELATED: Ghost Ship lawsuits call warehouse a 'death trap'

However, the gallery might not be able to afford the changes. Lopez-Chavez said repairs and upgrades could run nearly $40,000.

"If we don't get the funds for fixing this place up, we will have to shut down," she said.

The fire marshal said the gallery can remain open because the violations are not "life-safety," but people in the building need to be cautious.

He also acknowledged the conditions at La Bodega are much different than at the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship.

On an average Saturday night, La Bodega sees between 500 to 1,000 people come through the doors.

Until they can move forward with the changes, the city has restricted them to occupancy of 49 people or less. They will also need new permits.

RELATED: Man killed in Oakland warehouse fire was relative of 10News sports director Ben Higgins

"Safety is number one above anything and everything," Lopez-Chavez said.

She just hopes the gallery can survive in the meantime.

The owner of the building and gallery should be getting the full list of code violations soon.

La Bodega started a GoFundMe account to try and raise money, and they are also planning a fundraiser.

The fire marshal told Team 10 that the Oakland fire spurred another conversation with their staff about checking on buildings if something doesn't feel right.

They also encourage the public to call the authorities if they think a building might be dangerous.