Thursday, December 31, 2015

Friends, family hold vigil for Fil-Am killed in fire

CALIFORNIA - Hundreds gathered outside of the Kids Depot preschool where 22-year old Vanessa Dela Cruz worked as a teacher.

"I can't say anything more except that I really appreciate the support and the love that I felt," said Arnold Dela Cruz Sr, Vanessa's father.

Dela Cruz died in her bedroom as smoke and flames engulfed her family's home around 5 a.m. on Monday morning. Four family members managed to escape.

Three of her siblings took turns sharing their memories and thanking the community for the overflowing support.

"This is something that's going to take time for us to recover from if we ever will. The only thing is we got to be a family at least one more time," said Vanessa's brother, Arnold Dela Cruz Jr.

Her sister, Breanne added, "I'm not saying goodbye. Because she's not gone until she's forgotten. I know she's in a good place. She's too nice and her smile just made everyone else happy."

Several of the family members were injured in the blaze but have since been released from the hospital. Vanessa's mother however remained in the hospital but is expected to recover.

Filipino neighbor Helen Steel, who lives around the corner from the family, saw and heard the fiery Monday morning commotion.

"The flame was all over the place it's so high already," Steele said.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire. But they have ruled out arson. In the meantime, the Dela Cruz family, who only moved into the neighborhood less than a month ago, has found shelter with other family members as they cope with the loss.

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