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Oakland victim's mother: He didn't go there to die

oakland fire victim mother bts nd_00012106
oakland fire victim mother bts nd_00012106

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Story highlights

  • Emilie Grandchamps said her son went to the warehouse to support local artists
  • She wants to see the building manager and the city of Oakland held responsible

(CNN)Alex Ghassan, who died in the Oakland warehouse fire on Friday, was the father of 4-year-old twin daughters. They called him whenever they had a bad dream.

But since Ghassan was confirmed dead, along with his fiancé Hannah Henrikka Raux, his mother Emilie Grandchamps has been faced with a real-life nightmare. She has to tell her granddaughters that they will not be able to call their father anymore.
"You can't imagine the loss," she said in an emotional interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" on Wednesday. "My granddaughters don't have a father. My husband doesn't have a son. My family doesn't have Alex."
Ghassan and his fiancé are two of the 36 people who died Friday while attending a party at the "Ghost Ship" warehouse. The city of Oakland received repeated complaints about the space over the years, as recently as three weeks before the fire.
Grandchamps said that she holds a lot of people responsible, from the city itself to the building manager, Derick Almena, saying he knew it was not safe.
"Make amends and take responsibility," was her message to Almena. "You're wrong."
CNN's attempts to reach Almena were unsuccessful. In a brief interview aired on NBC's "Today Show" on Tuesday, he said he was "incredibly sorry" for what had happened at the warehouse.
Ghassan's mother told Camerota that her son did not live in the warehouse, and was only attending to support the local artists.
"My son didn't go there to die with his fiancé," she said.
After meeting through work on a set, Ghassan and Raux had maintained a long-distance relationship for almost a year. They met each other's parents, and decided to get married. Ghassan planned to move to Finland with Raux.
As for her granddaughters, Lucy and Alex, Grandchamps said there's only one thing she can do: "You pray."