Tearful memorial held for Fil-Am Oakland fire victim

BERKELEY, CA – Family and friends of Vanessa Grace Quintos Plotkin, the 21-year old Filipina-American who perished in the Oakland warehouse fire one week ago, took time from their grief to honor her memory.

UC Berkeley students and faculty held a vigil for Vanessa and four others – including her roommate, Jennifer Morris – who had ties to the university.

They were among the 36 victims who lost their lives last Friday, after a warehouse known as the Ghost Ship caught fire in the middle of an electronic dance show.

“Up until now, I didn’t know if I could speak at this vigil, but I felt that I had to to honor my daughter and what she means to me,” said Plotkin’s mother, Valerie Plotkin, in the vigil.

To her family, Vanessa was Ness – or rather happiness, messiness and super-ness. She had a twin sister and two older brothers.

Plotkin, who grew up in Lakewood in Los Angeles County, made the big move to the San Francisco to realize her dreams, majoring in sociology.

Her family says it was here in the Bay Area where she found herself, where she truly shined as an individual.

“She reached her mountain top here at Berkeley,” said Gary Plotkin, Vanessa’s father. “This is where she belonged. This was her dream. This is where she was excelling.”

“This is her city, and she loved it here. We cried on the phone when she got into Berkeley,” said childhood friend Olivia Green.

Plotkin attended the underground electronic music and art party on Dec. 2nd with her roommate, Jenny Morris.

“Vanessa’s life would not have been complete, nor as enjoyable, without her best friend, her best buddy, confidant and partner in arms, Jenny Morris, who was just as lovely as our daughter,” said Vanessa’s gather.

The family said that in hours after the warehouse fire– considered one of the worst in California’s history– they desperately tried to reach her. But she was not answering text messages or calls.

Vanessa’s twin, Victoria, last heard from her around 11 pm last Friday – a half hour before the warehouse caught fire.

While investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, family and friends are left to try and make sense of a horrific and unimaginable tragedy, while remembering the memories the victims left behind.

“Vanessa was my twin sister. She was my best friend. She was my light. She was my sun,” said twin Victoria Plotkin.


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