Hector Orozco recalled the time when his son, Brandon, a power line technician, joked with him about the significance of his electrical work.

"He said, 'Dad, you light up houses and I light up cities,'" said Hector, a residential electrician. "He used to tease me about how he dealt with real electricity, not like me who dealt with low-voltage electricity."

Brandon, 28, of Whittier, died Monday after the underground electrical vault he was working in near Huntington Harbour suddenly became energized and caught on fire.

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Hector Orozco, 50, of West Covina, said his family has been devastated by the loss. He especially has had difficulty coping with his son's death.

"It's been extremely hard. I'm not eating, I can't think and can't sleep," Orozco said. "I wake up wishing that it didn't happen.… I just want my son back. I'm helpless. I can't do anything to get my son back."

Brandon was one of five men working at the site, at Tisbury Circle and Mistral Drive on Humboldt Island, that day. He was with Escondido-based CAM Contractors Inc., hired by Southern California Edison to do scheduled work in the area.

Brandon had been a union line man for about three years and would work for various electrical contractors, Orozco said. His son loved the work regardless of who he was employed by.

"He would call me every single day and tell me about all the things he was doing," Orozco said. "He was so excited about being a line man."

CAM President Carlos Martinez said Brandon had been with his company for two months and was a "very conscientious worker."

His death was the first for the contractor, said Martinez, who has been in Huntington Beach for the past few days helping with the investigation.

"It's just an unfortunate incident, and we feel very sorry for the family losing him," Martinez said. "The electrical workers [have] a tight brotherhood."

Michelle Abawi, a 38-year-old resident of the island, and other neighbors were so moved by the incident that they opted to help by donating money to the Orozcos to pay for funeral costs. She is also asking others in the Huntington Beach community to help.

"It's very expensive these days. It's like $6,000 or $7,000 to bury somebody," Abawi said. "When you're not prepared for something like this, it's very difficult."

A viewing and rosary prayer service were held Sunday at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. A mass was held Monday morning at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Pasadena, and the burial took place at Rose Hills on Tuesday.

Despite never having met Brandon, Abawi felt like she needed to do something for the family.

"I have three children myself, one who's 21," she said. "[Brandon] was 28, so I could just feel for the family. I can't image losing my son, especially in such a tragic way."