By CBSLA Staff

(credit: CBS)

ONTARIO (CBSLA) — Investigators say two cousins that were missing are the two people killed in an explosion at an Ontario home Tuesday afternoon linked to a large fireworks cache.

Police Wednesday identified the missing cousins as Alex and Cesar Paez, who are 38 and 20 years old, respectively.

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The San Bernardino County coroner’s office confirmed that the bodies of two males were found on the property just after the explosion Tuesday afternoon. They have not been positively identified by authorities, but family members identified them to CBSLA as the two cousins. Alex was a father of three.

Eighty properties remained under mandatory evacuation orders Thursday – possibly for days – as bomb technicians scour the area for unexploded fireworks. Officials say there’s risk for further explosions. 24 bomb technicians from several local and federal agencies are at work canvassing the area.

Neighbor Armando Lomeli’s family was reunited with their dog, Junior who was left behind when they had to evacuate on Tuesday.
They were also emotional to find in their burned and smoke-filled house, an unscathed portrait of Armando’s brother, who passed away nine months ago.
“You couldn’t even walk, so much glass, everything is just broken,” said Lomeli. “Slippery and everything. I managed to get my brother’s portrait, a photo of him.”

Authorities set off dumpsters of fireworks which were too volatile to be removed from an Ontario, Calif., property where a massive explosion the day before left two men dead. March 17, 2021. (CBSLA)

Technicians said the fireworks are too volatile to remove, so they’re filling dumpsters with fireworks and setting them off at the property. They had already collected at least 60 containers of unexploded fireworks as of Wednesday night and would continue the process Thursday.

Investigators say it’s not clear whether the fireworks were being made at or sold from the home, only that there was a very large supply. The initial explosion had the magnitude of a bomb blast with a number of other explosions following.

“I am upset,” said Anna Earley, who felt the explosion in her house a few blocks away. “I think the whole community in this area, our whole Ontario, is upset. I know they do this on July 4th, we’re supposed to have no fireworks in this city at all.”

The house where the incident happened and a back house were destroyed, and throughout the neighborhood, the blasts blew out windows, buckled doors and brought people to their knees.

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“It’s just crazy I never thought the neighborhood would have that many fireworks,” said neighbor Jazmin Govina. “I’m just trying to have my dad go home and feel safe again.”

Govina said she does not think he will feel safe again because his house is right across the street from the blast.

Cesar and Alex Paez (Photo via GoFundMe)

It’s unknown whether they were living at the home. Three other people also suffered minor injuries, including one woman who told us bullets – apparently heated by the explosion – fired into the walls of her home.

Ontario police have confirmed they’ve received numerous calls about illegal fireworks in the neighborhood with one linked to that house.

“The fireworks were random,” said neighbor and City Councilman John Loureiro. “You wouldn’t hear them for a couple weeks and then you’d hear couple more fireworks. But they were the high-end firework.”

The Red Cross Thursday said it is assisting 137 people who live within the evacuation area with temporary housing. People were being provided with hotel vouchers. Anyone who needs help can call 909-395-2970.

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Local authorities say they need to make sure the area is secure before they can begin their investigation into exactly what happened.