Share this article

print logo

Grandmother of woman missing in Oakland fire says family confirms her death

Marion Dolan of Amherst had been beside herself since early Saturday, when she first learned that her granddaughter, Chelsea Faith Dolan, was likely among those in a converted warehouse in Oakland, Calif., when it caught fire Friday, leaving at least three dozen dead.

On Monday evening, Dolan learned the bad news. A phone call from one of her family members confirmed her worst fears.

"They just confirmed it," Dolan, 90, said she was told by her daughter Leslie Buchman, in reference to authorities confirming that Dolan's oldest granddaughter had died in the fire.

She said her daughter -- the aunt of Chelsea Faith, 33 -- was too upset to tell her anything else during the phone call she received about 7 p.m.

Dolan added that her daughter told her Chelsea's mother, Colleen Dolan, was too upset to call.

Marion Dolan told The Buffalo News she hopes to get more information about the death of her granddaughter on Tuesday.

Chelsea Faith Dolan grew up in California but has dozens of relatives in Western New York among her extended family. She was reportedly among several musicians who were playing at an electronic dance music party held in the warehouse when the fire broke out. Authorities in Oakland Monday had identified about a third of the 36 bodies found in the wreckage.

Colleen Dolan, Chelsea Faith's mother, who grew up in the Town of Tonawanda, moved to California to attend college more than three decades ago. It's where she raised Chelsea Faith and her sister, who made frequent visits to Western New York as children.

Chelsea Faith studied classical piano but was long ago attracted to performing electronic music, which took the San Francisco resident to venues across the country.

Marion Dolan said her granddaughter last visited the area in July for a surprise 90th birthday celebration for her grandmother.

"And she was so upbeat about everything going so well, and her music was going great and just things were working out all around beautifully for her. So, at least, I have some good, recent memory," said Marion Dolan.

"Chelsea was my first grandchild. You get mighty close to them when they get ... " Marion Dolan continued, her voice trailing off. "She just had a birthday in September."

While there have been reports that the converted warehouse-turned-arts-space known as the Ghost Ship in Oakland also contained residential space, Marion Dolan said her granddaughter was not a resident.

"She just went there for the job," said the grandmother.

"She very often played alone, but that night I believe it was almost a gathering of electronic musicians, and they think there were quite a few of them up there, and they were all, like, taking turns playing for the dancers down below," Marion Dolan added.

She said the second floor of the structure, where the musicians were playing, collapsed onto the first floor.

Firefighters have so far been unable to search the section of the building where the musicians were believed to have been performing, because the soundness of the structure was so compromised in the fire.

"They've got to get that wall shored up before they can go back in and look for more bodies. And they expect quite a few more yet," Marion Dolan said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment