A fire broke out Tuesday inside a Santa Ana home that was the setting, days earlier, of a domestic violence dispute, police said. After the fire, two bodies were found.
Firefighters and Santa Ana police responded shortly after 10:30 a.m. to a blaze at a two-story house at 2314 Manly Ave. When authorities arrived, the house was full of smoke, and flames were visible in the second story.
A body was found in the front living room, and another was found inside a bedroom. The remains were burned beyond recognition, but authorities believe the body in the living room was a man, based on the size, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. Firefighters rescued a dog from the inferno, but two cats died.
A woman who rents a room in the house heard a smoke alarm and left before fire crews arrived. She told authorities she heard someone else in the home who needed help but couldn’t get the person out, Bertagna said.
It wasn’t the first time police had visited the home. Officers responded to the location three days earlier and arrested Ahmad Alassad, 39, on suspicion of abusing his wife. Bertagna said authorities secured a protective order barring Alassad from contacting her, but family members told police he had threatened to return to the house. He was released from Orange County Jail on Sunday evening on bond.
Bertagna said authorities thought the two people found dead inside the home were Alassad and his wife, but coroner’s officials have not yet confirmed their identities.
A man who identified himself as the wife’s brother told KABC-TV Channel 7 that Alassad threatened to “come back and kill everyone and burn down the house” if the family called police on him.
A canine that searched the house with investigators Wednesday morning found several locations where ignitable liquid had been used, providing authorities with evidence that the blaze was intentionally set, Bertagna said.
“He had made threats to come back, but whether he did, that has yet to be determined,” Bertagna said. “A lot of questions remain unanswered. Did he kill her and set a fire to cover it up? Or did he set a fire and wasn’t able to get out? We’re not sure yet.”