Ventura County Star

Real fire in Oxnard puts training on holdChief thought blaze part of exercise

By Leslie Parrilla
December 11, 2002

Oxnard,CA - Oxnard fire officials were perplexed Tuesday when a fire broke out as they were waiting for a training exercise to begin.

"I turned on my radio and was confused," Oxnard Fire Department Battalion Chief Tom Waller said. "I heard the fire and thought they started without me."

Smoke billowed from a three-story office building at 2500 Vineyard Avenue around 12:30 p.m. as firefighters waited for a call to start a 1 p.m. annual exercise at Oxnard Airport.

"Everyone was at Station 1 waiting to leave," Waller said. Instead, firefighters from the Ventura County Fire Department and Federal Fire, also participating in the exercise, ended up assisting Oxnard with the small blaze.

No one was injured in the fire, which was sparked by an electrical short on the second floor. About 12 employees at Mission Produce administrative offices evacuated the third floor of the building before firefighters arrived. The first and second floors were vacant. "We had been smelling smoke for about an hour," said Mission Produce sales representative David Fausset.

"There was a controlled burn in Santa Paula, and we thought it was related to that." The second-alarm blaze was knocked down in about 10 minutes and didn't spread to the rest of the building. Firefighters smashed windows to release smoke, Waller said. "There was a lot of smoke and a little fire." About 15 Mission Produce employees were at lunch when the fire started.

Fire officials shut down Ventura Boulevard at Myrtle Street. Ten fire engines and 35 firefighters responded to the scene. Officials said there was smoke damage throughout the building.
Waller said the training exercise was postponed.