VENTURA : Home Damaged in Suspected Arson

Two people are homeless after a suspected arsonist set a two-alarm fire that caused extensive damage to one South Hurst Avenue house and briefly threatened another Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

Police are looking for a man who made threats about starting a fire earlier in the day on nearby Thompson Boulevard, said fire investigator Mike Maher. The cause is unknown and under investigation.

No one was injured in the noon fire at a single-story wood bungalow at 450 Hurst St., although firefighters broke through the front door, rescuing a German shepherd-mix dog and three kittens, Fire Department Capt. Rod Smith said.

"It was going pretty good when we got there," he said. "There were flames probably 30 feet in the air above the houses."

The fire brought down power lines, destroyed a carport, gutted the kitchen and caused extensive smoke damage to the rest of the house. Flames also broke a bathroom window and caused minor damage to a house next door, Smith said.

Four engine companies had the blaze under control within 20 minutes, he said. Damage is estimated at $25,000 to the structure and $5,000 to the contents, although the residents estimated a higher figure.

Tenant Mitch Blizzard, 37, a computer engineer who lived in the house with his girlfriend, said he had thousands of dollars worth of uninsured computer equipment stored in a shed in the carport, where the fire began.

"It looks like somebody came along and poured a gallon of gas against the wall and lit it," he said.

Maher said he could not confirm Blizzard's account of the fire.

"I'm at a loss to how [the fire] could have taken off that quickly," he said. "But at the same time I can find no evidence of accelerants."

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