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Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- A mistrial was declared Monday in the state murder trial of former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager, who was accused in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

The jury said they were unable to come to unanimous decision.

Slager, who is white, was accused of killing Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, at a traffic stop on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston while Slager was an officer with the city's police department. Witness video that surfaced shortly after the deadly encounter appears to show the moment Slager fatally shot Scott as he ran away. The video garnered national attention, propelling Slager into the spotlight.

Scott family attorney L. Chris Stewart said at a news conference after the mistrial was announced, "If you thought that we were going to come out here crying or weeping or weak, you don't know the Scott family, who've become my family."

Slager "dodged it by a hair," Stewart said, adding, "he's not dodging it again."

"The fight isn't over," he said, "That was round one."

Stewart said the solicitor will try the case again and the Department of Justice will also be trying the case.

Slager "delayed justice," he added, but "he did not escape it."

"That's the justice system."

Another family attorney, Justin Bamberg, said "justice will be had" at the end.

"Thanks to Feidin Santana [who filmed the witness video], we've seen the light and there is no way at the end of the day that former officer Michael Slager can escape what's coming to him," Bamberg added. He believes that will mean a conviction and prison time.

Scott's mother, Judy Scott, said she isn't sad about the mistrial because "Jesus is on the inside and I know that justice will be served."

"Injustice will not prevail," she added.

Scott's brother, Anthony Scott, said, "We have to live with his video being played over and over again."

Anthony Scott said he feels sorry for Slager's young child, but added, "there's not pity" for the rest.

He also urged for peaceful protests.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson thanked the jury for their "exemplary service," adding, "I don't mean to downplay or understate my disappointment that together we weren't able to reach a resolution."

She also thanked the Scott family.

"When I finished up closing arguments," she said, "and I walked over to give hugs, poppa Scott, the patriarch of the family, said to me, 'You'll always be my daughter.'"

"I just thank them so much for trusting me and for being an example for this community and leading this community to peace," Wilson said.

Defense attorney Andy Savage also thanked the jury.

"This is not a case about an individual or family," Savage said, adding the case is about "the state of South Carolina" -- not Walter Scott. "That's not to diminish Mr. Scott," Savage added.

"The rule of law has to be preserved in this country, and you have done that," Savage continued. "Thank you."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement after the mistrial, "It is my understanding that there will be, as quickly as possible, a new trial where the Scott family and all of South Carolina will hopefully receive the closure that a verdict brings. Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served -- I certainly do."

Haley said she urges all South Carolinians "to continue along the path we have walked these last two years: a path of grace, faith, love and understanding. That is who we are, and who I know we will continue to be."

Slager had pleaded not guilty to murder. But as the trial concluded last week, the jury was also allowed to consider a voluntary manslaughter charge. The voluntary manslaughter charge was requested by the prosecution and the judge allowed it based on testimony he heard during the trial.

Slager also faces a federal trial, which is scheduled for next year.



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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The FBI is investigating an imminent threat against the Los Angeles Metro system for which it had received specific information, officials said.

Authorities were still trying to determine if the threat was credible.

The agency received information about the threat for Tuesday morning against the red line Metro.

According to the FBI, an international partner had given the agency information about an anonymous call to a public safety line reporting a threat, not making one.

Officials decided to alert the public because of the imminence and specificity of the threat.

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Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Survivors of the deadly fire at an Oakland, California, warehouse that killed at least 36 people recall waking up to a "wall of fire" and billowing smoke so powerful that it opened a window, letting in oxygen that apparently added fuel to the blaze.

Nikki Kelber, a resident of the warehouse that housed artist studios, said she was asleep Friday night and "woke up to smoke and an entire wall of fire."

"I started walking toward the front door and I called for help and I don’t know that anybody could hear me with the music," Kelber said. "Minutes later, the power went out, so everyone who was inside was trapped in the dark."

Authorities continued Monday to search for bodies from the fire that was called in to the Oakland Fire Department at 11:32 p.m. Friday. A dance party was going on in the building at the time the blaze began. Among the victims whose bodies have been found so far, some were teens.

Another survivor, Carmen Brito, described "15 feet of flames literally." She recalled "just being hit in the face by black smoke that I was immediately blinded by and made my eyes water."

"I couldn’t breathe, and [the smoke] was so strong that it actually opened my window, which then brought all this oxygen into the space, which just fueled it and made it worse, and that’s when the power went out," Brito said.

Brito remembered "getting outside and realizing that there are no fire trucks here yet, there was nobody here."

The Oakland Fire Department had as of Monday morning searched about 70 percent of the charred building but had to stop because of unsafe conditions, Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed told Good Morning America. Firefighters were expected to resume the search for victims later Monday.

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Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The owner of the Orlando, Fla., nightclub where 49 people were killed in a mass shooting June 12 has decided not to sell the nightclub to the city, which had planned to convert the building into a memorial to the victims.

Pulse owner Barbara Poma in a statement said she “can’t just walk away” from the nightclub.

“I feel a personal obligation to ensure that a permanent space at Pulse be created so that all generations to come will remember those affected by, and taken on, June 12th,” Poma said in the statement, released by attorney Gus Benitez.

The city announced in November that it had a deal in place to buy the property for $2.25 million and turn it into a memorial. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at the time that the city planned to keep the nightclub “as-is” for about 12 to 18 months after purchasing it and then get community input for what to do with the site.

In response to Poma’s decision, Dyer put out a statement saying he respects the decision and is “hopeful the Pulse site will continue to be a place of hope and healing that honors the victims.” City Commissioner Patty Sheehan told ABC affiliate WFTV she also respected Poma’s decision but was disappointed that the city did not purchase the property.

Poma did not give details about what she plans to do with the site, but said in her statement that she wants to “create a space for everyone, a sanctuary of hope and a welcoming area to remember all those affected by the tragedy.” She said she plans to work with “communities impacted by this tragedy, the families of the victims and any private or public sector individuals or organizations who wish to assist.”

The Orlando City Council was set to vote on whether to approve the deal on Nov. 14, but the vote was postponed.

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iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Justin Ross Harris was sentenced Monday afternoon to life without parole for the murder of his 22-month-old son, who died after he was left in Harris' hot car in Georgia. He was also sentenced to an additional 32 years on other charges.

Harris' son, Cooper, died on June 18, 2014, after he spent about seven hours in a car seat in Harris' locked SUV in the Atlanta area.

Prosecutor Chuck Boring said at the sentencing that Cooper died in the most "torturous, horrific, unimaginable way possible."

"There is no justification," he said.

Boring said only one sentence "reflects" the "evil" crime -- life without parole. Boring also asked for an additional 32 years for other charges.

Judge Mary Staley Clark said at the sentencing that the jury "fairly deliberated and discharged their duties, and found the defendant guilty of what factually was a horrendous, horrific experience for this 22-month-old child who had been placed in the trust of his father. And, in violation and dereliction of duty to that child, if not love of that child, callously walked away and left that child in a hot car, in June, in Georgia, in the summer to swelter and die."

Clark then said she would follow the state's sentencing recommendation.

Harris, wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles, appeared emotionless in court after signing a sentencing document.

Last month, the jury of six men and six women found Harris guilty of all eight counts against him: malice murder, two counts of felony murder, cruelty to children in the first degree, cruelty to children in the second degree, criminal attempt to commit a felony and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors.

Besides Cooper's death, charges in the indictment also referred to sexually explicit online exchanges from March 2014 through the day of Cooper's death that, prosecutors say, Harris had with an underage girl. Prosecutors argued that Harris wanted to be free of his family responsibilities and was having multiple online affairs, including with the girl.

During closing arguments at Harris' trial in Brunswick, Georgia, about 300 miles from Atlanta, the prosecution said there is no doubt Cooper died due to the heat, no doubt Harris lived a double life and no doubt that Harris left Cooper in his car, while defense attorney Maddox Kilgore said Cooper's death was an accident.

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ABCNews.com(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- The Metro-North conductor who led the Yale Glee Club in an impromptu holiday sing-along that was a viral video last year has reunited with the singers for another carolling treat.

Bob McDonough shared a video on Facebook Saturday of his session "conducting" the New Haven-based singers in a holiday song aboard a Metro-North train.

This year, the glee club performed "In the Bleak Midwinter."

McDonough told ABC News he normally drives an empty train from New Haven to New York City each afternoon to position it for rush hour. On Friday, a train shortage left him without a train to drive, so he rode on a local into Grand Central Station.

As McDonough sat down to read a book, a coworker saw a "group of well-dressed college kids" on the platform and told McDonough he thought it was the Yale Glee Club.

"He said, 'Hey Bobby, I think these are your glee club kids from last year,'" McDonough recalled.

McDonough surprised the students on the train and said they "all started laughing" when they saw their old "conductor."

The glee club was traveling into New York City to perform a Christmas concert at The Yale Club in midtown Manhattan, according to McDonough. He said the singers were all happy to reprise their train performance with a new song this year.

"I said, 'What are the chances and can we do another one?'" McDonough said. "Emma, the choral leader, suggested 'In the Bleak Midwinter.'"

"I said, 'I love that song so much, sounds great,'" he recalled.

McDonough had the singers practice the song as they waited to pass the next stop to avoid being interrupted by train announcements. He asked glee club member Sara Viola Speller to shoot a video on his smartphone while they sang. The club performed the song in one take.

McDonough’s video has received 23,000 views since Saturday.

The Yale Glee Club also shared the video on Facebook. They did not yet respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — The death toll from the Oakland, California, warehouse fire has now climbed to 36 as authorities continue to discover more bodies -- some of them of teens possibly younger than 17 -- after a blaze broke out during a dance party in the building that housed artist studios.

The Oakland Fire Department has searched 70 percent of the charred building so far but had to stop this morning because of unsafe conditions, Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed told Good Morning America Monday. They plan to resume their search for victims later Monday.

“The unfortunate reality of this somber Monday morning is that we’re anticipating additional bodies being recovered within the structure," Reed told GMA Monday morning. "We’re at approximately 70 percent of coverage in terms of the area that we’re able to search, and the 30 percent that’s left is 12 to 15 feet high with debris.”

When Reed spoke, 33 bodies had been found, and the number has now risen by three. Of the 36 victims, 11 have been positively identified, authorities said Monday morning.

The Oakland Fire Department first responded to reports of a structure fire at the warehouse known as the "Ghost Ship" around 11:32 p.m. Friday night. Reed told reporters the facility appeared to function as a residential building that hosted a makeshift artists' studio, as well as parties like the one that took place Friday night.

Authorities Sunday asked families with missing loved ones who attended the party to preserve DNA samples as a way of confirming the identities of those who died in the blaze, and the District Attorney's Office launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

Reed said Monday morning the history of the building is being examined for clues about how the tragedy took place.

“The city of Oakland is still looking at the history with the building. … We’ve got a vibrant community in Oakland that we embrace and we obviously want to make sure that we’re preventing any disasters like this in the future," Reed said.

The Oakland-based weekly newspaper Eastbay Express has previously blamed gentrification and rising rents in the Bay Area for putting the Northern California region's counter-cultural arts scene in a crisis of space and money.

Authorities said Monday morning that firefighters were encountering obstacles in their search due to the precarious nature of the building's structure.

Reed said Monday firefighters are taking mental health breaks as a way of coping with the exhausting and traumatic job they are undertaking.

“We set up at our union hall yesterday for the anticipation of many firefighters that just wanted to kind of watch football together and chill, eat some pizza, debrief with peers before going home to their families. Sometimes it helps to kind of offload those emotions before bringing it home," Reed told GMA.

"We’ve got our peer-support group off the scene, available offsite. We have an incredible number of new firefighters who are realizing the somber effect of a very dangerous fire and the tragic loss in our community.”

Rain is expected in the region on Wednesday, a circumstance that could further complicate recovery efforts for firefighters.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(CANNON BALL, N.D.) — The day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not approve an easement needed to permit the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, sparking a wave of celebration throughout the protest camp, efforts to protest the construction of the pipeline were expected to resume Monday.

The announcement Sunday afternoon marked a major victory for the Native American tribes and thousands of environmentalists and other activists who have demonstrated in solidarity with their cause. Many who gathered at the site of the protest met around a communal "sacred" fire to discuss the victory, and some were too overcome with emotion to put their thoughts into words.

But work on the controversial crude oil pipeline may not have been defeated by Sunday's announcement, at least not permanently, and because of this, the protest camp is expected to resume activity Monday.

Many vowed to remain at camp until a definitive rejection of the pipeline could be secured.

Additionally, at least 2,000 military veterans who arrived Sunday to act as a "human shield" between the protesters and the police have started the process of taking over camp security, a circumstance that had led to mixed emotions around the camp due to the complicated, and often brutal history between U.S. armed forces and Native Americans.

The vets, led by Wesley Clark Jr., son of retired general and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark, are expected to be present at the camp until Dec. 7. Donations to a GoFundMe account launched by Clark in support of Veterans for Standing Rock, a group he claimed would "assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation," passed the $1 million dollar mark Sunday morning.

Native American groups and environmental activists have been protesting since summer to block construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline that would have cut across four states and transport crude oil from North Dakota's oil fields to refinery markets in Illinois.

The activists, who call themselves "water protectors," say that the pipeline traverses culturally sacred sites and poses a risk to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water supply.

Prominent progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., applauded the Army Corps' decision to halt work on the pipeline, saying in a statement, "in the year 2016, we should not continue to trample on Native American sovereignty. We should not endanger the water supply of millions of people."

Canadian author and environmental activist Naomi Klein wrote in The Nation that the Army Corps' announcement demonstrated the efficacy of protest as a way for activists to make gains in the movement to combat man-made climate change.

"The line between resistance and results is bright and undeniable. That kind of victory is rare precisely because it’s contagious, because it shows people everywhere that organizing and resistance is not futile. And as Donald Trump moves closer and closer to the White House, that message is very important indeed," Klein wrote.

President-elect Donald Trump said last week for the first time that he supports the completion the pipeline. Trump has been accused of being dismissive of the concerns of scientists and activists regarding the potential threat posed by man-made climate change.

In a meeting last month with The New York Times, Trump appeared to soften his tone on the subject by acknowledging "connectivity" between human activity and climate change.

"I think there is some connectivity. Some, something," he said in the meeting.

House Speaker Paul Ryan voiced his disapproval last night of the Army Corps' decision, tweeting that it was "big-government decision-making at its worst."

"I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us," Ryan wrote, anticipating the start of Trump's administration next month.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who gained prominence when she left the Democratic National Committee to campaign for Bernie Sanders during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, and was among the more high profile veterans attending the protests at Standing Rock, urged caution to activists, suggesting on Twitter that more fights were likely on the horizon.

"While we celebrate today's news, we cannot be complacent. We must continue to protect our water and preserve our land," she wrote on Sunday night.

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Courtesy of Keith Papini(REDDING, Calif.) — Members of a tight-knit California community gathered over the weekend to welcome home Sherri Papini, a mother of two whose harrowing alleged kidnapping has captured worldwide attention.

Hundreds of people met at the Redding Civic Auditorium on Saturday dressed in pink, Papini's favorite color, and took a Christmas card photo to send to the family as a gift.

Despite swirling rumors and mixed reactions surrounding the family's ordeal, friends and locals rallied together to send a positive message to the Papini's after the 34-year-old's alleged three-week abduction.

Mayor Missy McArthur thanked the residents of Redding for their help, according to KRCR, a local ABC News affiliate.

"We never lost hope, we kept working, we made it happen. We're so proud of our community, and thank you so much," said McArthur.

Authorities are still hunting for the alleged kidnappers. Based on Sherri's description of her alleged captors, Sheriff Bosenko told ABC News that authorities are searching for two Hispanic female adults armed with a gun and driving a dark SUV.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Authorities arrested a man on Sunday who fired an assault rifle inside a popular Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant that has become a target after being featured in a fake news story.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, entered Comet Ping Pong in Northwest D.C. on Sunday afternoon wielding an assault rifle — sending patrons fleeing from the popular pizza joint — before firing one shot, according to police.

The restaurant was featured in a made up news story circulated online during the presidential election.

Welch told authorities he entered the establishment to “self-investigate" a spurious theory in the story that involves Hillary Clinton.

D.C. Metro Police referred to the story as “a fictitious online conspiracy theory” — but that hasn't stopped believers from harassing the business and its patrons both online and in person.

According to police, Welch entered the restaurant around 3 p.m. and pointed a gun in the direction of an employee. That employee was able to flee and call police, who arrived shortly thereafter and arrested Welch without incident.

Welch discharged his firearm one time. There were no reports of injuries, police said.

Police found two weapons on Welch and another in his vehicle. Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis said in a statement on Sunday.

"I really hope that all these people fanning the flames of this conspiracy theory would take a moment to contemplate what has gone on today and maybe to stop,” he told WJLA, an ABC affiliate.

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Twitter / @bayreef (WASHINGTON) -- A North Carolina man who fired a gun Sunday at a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. said he was there to "self-investigate" a fake news conspiracy theory, according to police.

The online conspiracy theory "Pizzagate" has circulated since the presidential election with fake news stories alleging crimes involving Comet Ping Pong, a popular pizza place in the nation's capital, and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Around 3 p.m. Sunday, the Metropolitan Police Department said officers responded to reports of a man with a firearm at Comet Ping Pong. The man allegedy pointed a firearm in the direction of an employee at the restaurant and police said the employee was able to escape and call authorities.

The suspect then fired at least one shot inside the restaurant, police said, but there were no reported injuries. Two firearms were recovered from inside Comet Ping Pong and an additional weapon was found inside the suspect's vehicle, according to police.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, was arrested without incident and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue said in a statement.

Police added later that in a "post arrest interview" Sunday night, the suspect said he was at Comet Ping Pong to "self-investigate 'Pizza Gate' (a fictitious online conspiracy theory)," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Initially police said they did not have any information linking the actions of the suspect to the false conspiracy theory.

Since the fake news stories about "Pizza Gate" first began, Comet Ping Pong employees said its owner, staff, and other businesses nearby received threats and have been attacked on the internet, according to the Washington Post.

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JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(MANDAN, N.D.) -- The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army's Assistant Secretary for Civil Works announced Sunday in a statement.

The Army claimed in a statement that Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy based her decision on a need to explore "alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing."

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell released a statement in support of the decision, saying that the "thoughtful approach established by the Army Sunday ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts."

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe also praised the decision, and thanked both the Obama administration and the many people who supported the effort to stop the pipeline from being built across Lake Oahe.

"We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing," Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision."

The news comes on a day when at least 2,000 U.S. military veterans have arrived at Standing Rock amid frigid cold to help battle against the construction of the pipeline.

The vets, led by Wesley Clark Jr., son of retired general and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark, began arriving in force Sunday to help protest against the controversial crude oil pipeline project in North Dakota.

They joined the months-long demonstration at what felt like a moment of heightened drama: The North Dakota governor had issued an emergency evacuation order for protesters around the site, which follows a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deadline for demonstrators to leave the area by Monday, Dec. 5.

 

Today's @usarmy announcement underscores that tribal rights are essential components to analysis of #DAPL going forward.SJ pic.twitter.com/2VAiubBTLL

— Sally Jewell (@SecretaryJewell) December 4, 2016

 

But the evacuation order, which could have come with mass arrests, was made prior to Sunday's statement by the Army.

Protesters and their supporters showed little inclination to back down, prior to the announcement this afternoon.

Donations to a GoFundMe account launched by Clark in support of Veterans for Standing Rock, a group he claimed would "assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation," passed the $1 million dollar mark this morning, coming from more than 24,000 individual donors, according to a page promoting the cause.

Standing Rock protesters described the veterans' mission as serving as a kind of "human shield" between peaceful demonstrators and police.

In addition to Clark's "peaceful militia," the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights told ABC News on Friday that it would send commissioners to North Dakota to monitor for any possible civil rights violations, as clashes between protesters and law enforcement have at times turned violent.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company behind the Dakota Pipeline, has argued that concerns about its potential to pollute water are unfounded.

He also wrote in an internal memo to staff in September that "multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route," suggesting that the construction of the pipeline would not affect Native Americans who live in the area where it is being built.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A small school bus carrying a group of high school cheerleaders from a football game collided with an 18-wheeler in West Texas late Friday night, killing one passenger and leaving two in critical condition, officials said Saturday.

The Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District bus was carrying six cheerleaders and two cheerleader sponsors, when the 18-wheeler slammed into it on Interstate 20 in Howard County, said Iraan-Sheffield School District Superintendent Kevin Allen.

 The fatality was Elizabeth Pope, a cheerleader sponsor, according to reports.

The seven injured people were hospitalized following the crash: As of Saturday afternoon, four had been treated and released. A spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock said three remained hospitalized — two in critical and one in satisfactory condition.

According to KMID, an ABC affiliate in Odessa, Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the collision.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- At least eight buildings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were damaged by a 10-alarm fire, officials said Saturday.

About 140 firefighters were on the scene as of 6 p.m., the Cambridge Fire Department said.

There were three or four minor injuries as a result of the fire, according to fire officials, and 60 people were displaced. Shelters for those affected by the fire were said to be opening at a local recreation center.

According to ABC affiliate WCVB-TV, at least one building had collapsed in the massive fire. The building was under construction and officials believed it was where the fire started, WCVB-TV reported.

The Cambridge Fire Department said they were thankful the incident started early in the afternoon so people were awake and aware of the situation.

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moodboard/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Authorities have confirmed nine fatalities from a fire that swept through a warehouse in Oakland, California, where a party was taking place late Friday night, but the death toll is expected to rise as firefighters worked overnight to secure the space so they may remove the bodies of other victims.

Multiple bodies "have been seen but have not yet been reached," because the building's unstable structure has prevented firefighters from removing the bodies, Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Kelly said Saturday, adding that "a couple of dozen" of party-goers remain unaccounted.

Heavy equipment, including excavators arrived overnight to begin digging out debris. Kelly said the roof of the building had collapsed and firefighters were shoring up the charred structure to ensure it is safe before recovery crews can enter.

Kelly said authorities are prepared for a mass causality event and they will be on scene for days to come. Most of the victims were in their 20s and 30s, and some were not from the U.S., he said.

 The Oakland Fire Department responded to reports of a structure fire on 31st Avenue at around 11:32 p.m. on Friday night. Most of the bodies were found on the warehouse's second floor, which was only accessible by a makeshift stairwell assembled with various materials, according to Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed.

Reed said the warehouse appears to be a work and residential building that hosts a makeshift artists' studio. It's unclear if the building is equipped with smoke alarms, the fire chief added.

"We are also working with federal partners to determine the cause of the fire and assist with the investigation moving forward," Reed said in a press release Saturday afternoon. "Due to structural damage from the fire, the ongoing investigation efforts and search for additional victims will be methodical and are anticipated to take some time."

 An official briefed on the ongoing investigation said there were stacks of wooden pallets inside the warehouse that essentially served as kindling for the fire.

Preliminary indications suggest the blaze was not caused by arson, but rather an electrical fire. The power went out inside the building when the fire began and the flames blocked the building's only exit, making it difficult for people inside to escape, the official told ABC News.

Investigators will look into the building's inspection history and will try to determine whether the owner was aware what the structure was being used for. Criminal charges could be possible depending on the outcome of the investigation, the official said.

 One person who was inside the warehouse at the time of the fire told ABC affiliate KGO that the building is home to about 18 people who use it as an artist collective.

Officials told KGO there was an event with at least 75 people inside when the flames erupted Friday night.

Footage from the scene showed the building engulfed in flames as plumes of thick, grey smoke billowed into the dark sky.

Meanwhile, a vigil had been planned for Monday evening at The Pergola at Lake Merritt in Oakland. According to the event's Facebook page, more than 800 people have RSVPed.

And a relief fund set up by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Ghostship Oakland Fire, has already raised more than $100,000 as of Sunday morning.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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