ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Search crews on the scene of the Oakland warehouse fire in California have identified the remains of a New Jersey man.

Alex Ghassan was among the 36 people who died when flames broke out during a party at the converted warehouse on Friday night.

His family had been holding onto hope that somehow he survived.

“I got up this morning and realized I had to go bury my son,” Ghassan’s mother, Emi Lei Grandchamps, told CBS2’s Dick Brennan. “I always said I prepared myself for the worst and prayed for the best. Now it’s time for me to lay him to rest.”

Ghassan posted a video from inside the warehouse just a few hours before the fire. The 35-year-old identified himself as a producer and director from Jersey City.

“You don’t expect this, you really don’t expect it,” his cousin James Davis said. “He was truly a visionary. His art speaks volumes.”

“He is a special person. He’s a very intelligent person, a very loving person, a very like I’ve got to do it to the max, there’s nothing small, everything has to be big,” Grandchamps said.

As his mother tries to find her strength, she says she has no choice but to move forward.

“I have no time to cry. I have granddaughters — my son’s daughters — we can’t cry in front of them. We have to be there, we have to be strong for them,” Grandchamps said.

Ghassan’s 4-year-old twin daughters live with their mother in Hoboken, New Jersey. They have’t been told about the tragedy.

An investigation into what caused the fire and possible criminal charges is underway.


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