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OXNARD | West Ventura County Focus

Arson Blamed in Car Dealership Fire

November 15, 1996|SCOTT STEEPLETON

Authorities say someone used flammable liquids to start a fire Wednesday morning that caused about $2.5 million damage at the Mike Wallace Ford dealership on Oxnard Boulevard.

The fire, which started about 5 a.m., gutted the showroom and offices and destroyed about a dozen cars.

A task force of arson investigators from throughout the county has been on the scene since Wednesday, and on Thursday brought in an arson dog trained to sniff out sources of fires, or "hits," said Oxnard Fire Department Battalion Chief Clarence Slayton.

"The arson dog made a number of hits. Flammable liquids were at a number of places inside the showroom," said Slayton.

And the damage estimate, he said, will rise. "Every day [owner Mike Wallace is] out of business that amount goes up," Slayton said.

On Thursday, Ford sales were being handled through the nearby Pacific Coast Nissan dealership, which is under the same ownership as the Ford dealer.

The Ford service department was able to open in the undamaged portion of the main building.

Among crews called from five fire departments to battle the blaze, two firefighters were injured. Doug Campbell of the Oxnard Fire Department received second-degree burns on his neck and was taken off duty, Slayton said. The other firefighter, whose name wasn't available, received first- and second-degree burns to his ear but was not taken off duty, according to Slayton.

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