OXNARD — A child playing with matches may have started a fire that caused about $80,000 damage to a triplex, driving a family of nine from their home Friday in south Oxnard, investigators said.
No one was injured in the 4 p.m. blaze in the 200 block of Johnson Drive.
When firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed one of two downstairs units of the 50-year-old building, said Battalion Chief Terry McAnally. It took about 20 minutes to put out the blaze and another three hours to mop up. The second downstairs unit was heavily damaged, and there was minor smoke and fire damage to the upstairs unit.
Firefighters could not find any smoke detectors inside the building, McAnally said. "The family was able to get out, but it could have been worse," he said.
The fire may have been started by someone playing with matches. However, the investigation is continuing, McAnally said.
An undetermined amount of cash was stuffed beneath a mattress, which was believed to be the fire's point of origin, and most of the money burned, McAnally said.
The family from the second downstairs dwelling was in Mexico at the time of the fire, and the upstairs unit was vacant.
According to McAnally, the wood-frame building was likely built in the 1940s.
"It's dry and it's combustible, and it's just waiting for something to touch it off," McAnally said.
The Red Cross arranged to have the displaced family placed in a local hotel.