Compton

Business Owner in Compton Commercial Fire Wakes Up to Uncle Screaming, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!'

Smoke and flames could be seen early Friday for miles around Compton.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Jimmy Valadez woke up to his uncle screaming, "Fire! Fire! Fire!"

It was 4:30 in the morning Friday as intense flames and dark plumes of smoke from a commercial fire could be seen miles away.

Valadez was one of several business owners who watched the Matrix Mattress company go up in flames.

"Stock inventory gone. Warehouse is gone. Half the property is gone," he said.

It has been in the Valadez family for generations.

"It's a tragedy to all of us," said Vanessa Valadez. "It's not just one family impacted, it was my grandpa and his 10 kids and grandkids."

Daylight reveals the damage from an early morning fire in Compton. Meghan Reyes reports for Today in LA Friday Feb. 26, 2021.

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Arson investigators were on scene to determine how the fire started, but several nearby resident believe a homeless encampment in this alley is to blame.

Christian Hernandez said they make fires to stay warm.

"They have a whole house there -- port-a-potty, generators," he said.

Elias Hernandez, who lives behind his family's business, said he tried to put out the fire.

"I was in the backyard right here in the alley, trying to hose it down the whole time," he said.

It took firefighters about four hours to knock down the blaze, which also destroyed numerous new buses in a nearby lot.

One firefighter twisted his ankle, but no other injuries were reported.

For that, the business owners are grateful.

"My first instinct was is my family OK, so seeing them is a relief," said Sineade Valadez. "Anything else can be replaced."

 Family business owners affected by the fire created a GoFundMe.

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