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Carports Catch Fire During Burglary; 8 Cars Demolished

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eight cars were destroyed and 10 others were damaged when two carports at an Oxnard apartment complex caught fire early Monday during the burglary of one or more of the vehicles, authorities said.

The fire, which gutted one carport and slightly damaged the cars in the other, caused an estimated $100,000 damage at the Mira Loma Apartments at 1600 W. 5th St., Oxnard Police Lt. Tom Cady said.

The fire was reported a few minutes after midnight and was extinguished about 12:45 a.m., and Oxnard firefighters spent another two hours mopping up the area, Battalion Chief Henry Lenhart said.

Tenants said police told them that gasoline had been siphoned from some of the vehicles and that the fire somehow resulted from that. Cady said it was unclear what had sparked the fire. He would only say that one or more of the vehicles had been burglarized and that the incident was still under investigation.

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Tenants at the 156-unit complex said late Monday morning that it would be difficult to cope without their vehicles.

“It was like the Fourth of July. All you could see was big old flames,” said manager Nora Martinez, whose apartment is near the carport.

Martinez remembered hearing a car alarm about midnight followed by “two big booms.”

The cars inside the gutted carport were burned-out shells. Metal poles stood askew, and charred wooden beams cluttered the ground around them.

Sylvia Rivera pointed to the remains of her 1979 Ford Granada.

“The color was yellow,” she said. Rivera also owns a Hyundai, which was parked in the other carport and received minor damage. Rivera said only the Hyundai was insured.

“Two cars ruined. Three kids. I work in Camarillo. It is terrible. I don’t know what happened,” Rivera said.

Tenants credited the quick arrival of firefighters with preventing more serious damage to the second carport.

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Taillights on most of the vehicles in the second carport were melted, and there were a few shattered windows.


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