Washington, - At least nine people died after a fire broke out during a during a festive gathering in a warehouse in Oakland, California.

Authorities have confirmed nine deaths but say they are preparing for the death toll to rise as high as 40.

More than two dozen people were still unknown Saturday afternoon, hours after the blaze that broke out Friday.

Oakland fire chief Teresa Deloche-Reed said between 50 and 100 people were thought to have been inside the venue.

City officials confirmed Saturday that building authorities had opened an investigation just last month into complaints about the safety of the structure. That inquiry was ongoing when the fire struck.

Source: Qatar News Agency