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Costa Mesa community rallies around 6 families displaced by apartment fire

Costa Mesa community rallies around 6 families displaced by apartment fire
Six families were displaced after authorities determined a two-story apartment building on West 18th Street in Costa Mesa was unsafe for occupancy following a fire in a second-floor unit. (Daily Pilot)

Costa Mesa leaders and community organizations are rallying around 21 people in six families who were displaced after authorities deemed their apartment building unsafe after a fire, officials said.

“Some of them have lost pretty much everything,” said Costa Mesa Councilwoman Sandy Genis.

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The Fire Department responded to the blaze in an upper-level unit of a two-story apartment building in the 700 block of West 18th Street at about 11:30 a.m. Jan. 11, department spokesman Joe Noceti said.

The fire damaged that apartment and caused heavy water damage to the unit below, the Fire Department said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, officials said.

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Inspectors determined the six-unit building was no longer safe for occupancy because of fire, smoke and water damage and potential structural problems, Noceti said.

The residents of the apartment where the blaze started received help through the California Fire Foundation’s Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency program, or SAVE, which provides a prepaid debit card worth $250, Noceti said.

Costa Mesa-based Fresh Beginnings Ministries helped coordinate temporary shelter for families who didn’t have friends or relatives who could take them in right away.

“I was able to find a place for three of the families that did not have a place to go,” said Bill Nelson, executive director of Fresh Beginnings.

The nonprofit arranged for those families to stay in hotels while Fresh Beginnings worked to find longer-term accommodations, said Nelson, who also is an outreach worker for the city of Costa Mesa.

The three families placed in hotels moved out Friday, Nelson said. One moved into Pathways of Hope in Fullerton, which provides housing for homeless families, Nelson said.

The other families have made arrangements to stay with relatives while they wait the anticipated six to eight months until the apartment building can be occupied again, Nelson said.

The Daily Pilot was unable to reach members of the families for comment.

Having helped many families in similar circumstances, Nelson said he is sensitive to their concerns.

“Moms and dads are worried about the security of their kids,” he said. “Once they see they have support and know they’re not alone, they stand up and take the reins.”

The families’ children have been able to keep up their school attendance while they await repairs to the apartment building, Nelson said.

“There are children ranging from … a new baby to teenage kids,” Genis said. “So wherever your heart lies, please help.”

Fresh Beginnings Ministries is collecting donations for the affected families and taking their requests to fill needs. The organization will share the solicited items on Facebook as well as its website, Nelson said.

For more information and to donate, visit freshbeginningsministries.com.

This article was originally published at 6:05 p.m. and was later updated with additional information.

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