LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Firefighters on Sunday threw a holiday party for residents who lost their homes last Thursday in what officials believe was a case of arson.

The fire tore through a building in the 1000 block of North Bonnie Brae Avenue.  Two people were also killed in the fire.

Melanie Woodrow, reporting for KCAL9, said the surprise Christmas celebration went a long way to put smiles on people’s faces.

“I never had a skateboard before,” said 9-year-old Elizabeth Rivas, one of the victims of the fire. “I didn’t know this was going to happen. I’m surprised.”

Her mother, Eva, remembers the fire very vividly.

“I opened the door, I got some of the smoke and I just closed it. I went back, woke my kids up and we left,” said Rivas.

The Rivas family lives near the apartment that was ravaged by the fire. Rivas and her family made it out unharmed.

They’re one of several families now staying at the Hollywood Inn Express.

Woodrow reports the heroes that saved them, also saved their Christmas.

In addition to the skateboard, Santa (and the firefighters) came through with a few other gifts.

“I got a scooter with wheels that light up, make-up, something to curl my hair, a helmet and an Easy Bake Oven,” said Rivas. “I’m very happy.”

The fire was tragic, especially coming right before the holiday.

“It was very tragic,” says LA Fire Capt. Ellsworth Fortman, “We are a part of this community. It’s something we like to do, we do take care of people.”

Benjamin Rivas, 13, was also remembered when the gifts were being handed out. He got a bike.

“I wasn’t expecting anything,” he said, “but some things are unexpected.”


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