The cause of a Sunday morning fire at a northwest Santa Maria apartment complex is considered suspicious, according to the Santa Maria Fire Department.

Four engines, a truck company and a battalion chief were dispatched at about 9:40 a.m. to a structure fire in a unit at 502 N. Oakley Ave. Upon arrival, crews found the second story of the building on fire.

“An exterior attack confined the fire to the balcony and front door of the apartment,” Battalion Chief Thomas ​Crakes said, adding the fire was under control in 10 minutes.

The family living in the residence was not home at the time of the incident.

“The action of a bystander with an extinguisher saved further property damage by slowing down the rate of the fire spread,” Crakes said.

He said the cause remains under investigation, but the fire is listed as suspicious.

Authorities are asking that anyone who saw anything suspicious or someone leaving the scene, a block north of West Fesler Street and two blocks east of North Western Avenue, call the Fire Department at 805.925.0951 x2337.

Santa Maria police assisted with the investigation.

Initial damage to the structure is estimated at $50,000, Crakes said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at