LOS ANGELES — When Leonardo Cuadrado saw a raging fire tearing through an East Los Angeles neighborhood in the distance, his first thought was hoping no one had been hurt.
Soon afterward, hope turned to heartbreak as Cuadrado learned the five-story structure going up in flames before dawn Wednesday was an apartment complex being built to house scores of homeless and low-income veterans that his non-profit, New Directions for Veterans, had partnered to build with Los Angeles County and others.
Plans called for people to begin moving in shortly before Christmas.
“We were just getting ready to start the lease operations. I don’t believe any families have been slated to move in yet,” said Cuadrado, executive director of the non-profit. “The main goal now is just to ensure that they don’t fall out of our orbit.”
By the time the first of some 150 firefighters arrived at about 1 a.m.