OC Rep. Katie Porter offers hope, help to displaced Tustin residents in apartment building fire

TUSTIN, Calif. (KABC) -- As charges were filed against the arson suspect in a massive blaze at a Tustin two-story apartment complex, many displaced residents were visited by a local congresswoman Friday who offered some hope.

Twenty-two of the 100 displaced residents are staying at the Tustin Area Senior Center, where the Red Cross and other non-profits are providing food and accommodations, following the early Wednesday morning fire that sent plumes of smoke into the sky and caused to roof of the structure to collapse.

On Friday, Congresswoman Katie Porter visited them to give them assurance that they'd get the help they need to get back on their feet.

Although they are receiving help, David Arriaga and his mom say their future is uncertain.

"We lost everything except our photos. Our memories, photos," Arriaga said.

Tustin apartment building fire leaves 2 injured; arson suspect arrested
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A massive blaze at a two-story apartment complex sent plumes of smoke into the sky as more than 100 firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames early Wednesday morning.

Porter promised to coordinate federal and state assistance to help the residents get passports and social security cards that may have been destroyed in the fire, as well as help getting long-term housing. She also took time to thank the volunteers and agencies involved.

"It's a tremendous honor to have that recognition and to know, especially for the residents that were affected because it's such a tragedy, that she's here to support them," said Captain Tony Bommarito with the Orange County Fire Authority.

Meanwhile, a joint investigation continues with Tustin fire officials and police, with damage totals expected to be well over $5 million.

Patrick Andrew Ceniceros, 59, remained in the hospital and is facing arson and animal cruelty charges, according to authorities.

A motive has not been determined yet, but police said Ceniceros lived in the complex and the fire started inside his unit.

"If it was intentionally set, that's a huge factor. It probably came into play in how fast this fire progressed," Bommarito said. "It took off very quickly, got in that roof and wrapped all the way around that building."

Two civilians suffered apparent smoke inhalation injuries considered minor. One dog found dead after the blaze erupted. No police officers or firefighters were hurt in the incident.

Fire officials said they are working to determine if the building had working sprinklers and fire alarms.
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