When The Girlfriend Of An Oakland Fire Victim Wanted to Track Down A Photo, Social Media Came To The Rescue

Her post asking for help was shared over 300 times

On Dec. 2, late enough in the evening that it was almost Dec. 3, a fire broke out at a warehouse in Oakland, Calif. Inside the building, known as Ghost Ship, about 100 people had gathered for a party sponsored by electronic music label 100% Silk. It took four hours for crews to control the flames.

Over a week later, the cause of the blaze, the deadliest fire in Oakland's history, is still unknown. That the fire had been started by a faulty refrigerator owned by one of the roughly 25 artists who were illegally using the warehouse as a residence is just one of the theories. However, while investigations continue, the friends and loved ones of the 36 people who died on Dec. 2 have started their processes of mourning. 

Saya Tomioka lost her boyfriend Griffin Maddens in the blaze. Two days after the fire, she wrote on Facebook about the first time the two of them visited Times Square together. 

She remembered they had seen "The Book of Mormon" and the lights were so bright afterward they brought tears to her eyes, she wrote in her status. Tomioka and Maddens had kissed in the street and by chance, a photographer captured the moment.

She had only ever seen the photo once, but had always longed to find it again, she wrote on Facebook. She asked for help locating the photo. She asked anyone who believed her undertaking wasn't impossible to share the status. In essence, she asked the Internet for a miracle.


She got one.

After receiving over 300 shares, the post appeared on the newsfeed of New York photographer Arken Avan. He wasn't initially sure that he had taken the image, he told A Plus via email, but after he was sent the post for a second time, he started looking through his hard drives and the thousands of photos he took on June 15, 2015, the date Tomioka mentioned in her post.

At 3 a.m., he found the photo and posted it on Instagram. He said since it was so late, he thought Tomioka wouldn't see the photo until the morning, but in a half hour, she had found the post and changed her profile picture to the image.

"Stories like this always change me, and hopefully other people too," Avan said. "We don't live forever, but we need to keep the best memories of our life, and memories of people we love, and photography is one of the best ways to save those memories. I hope this picture she was looking for will really warm her heart."

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(H/T Mashable)


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