HAYWARD -- A fast-moving arson fire ignited by a Molotov cocktail heavily damaged a three-bedroom apartment early Tuesday morning, officials say.

A mother and her 8-year-old son escaped the three-bedroom apartment without injury.

The single-alarm fire was reported around 4 a.m. at the apartment building in the 26100 block of Dixon Street, according to Hayward fire Capt. Thor Poulsen. The woman awoke to the sound of breaking glass and saw fire in the living room, he said.

"These people were very lucky to get out alive," Poulsen said.

Firefighters broke holes in the roof to ventilate the blaze, allowing others to begin battling the fire from the ground, Poulsen said. It was under control about 4:10 a.m.

Hayward Fire Department investigators continue to look through the debris of an early morning one-alarm fire on Dixon Street in Hayward, Calif. on Tuesday,
Hayward Fire Department investigators continue to look through the debris of an early morning one-alarm fire on Dixon Street in Hayward, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 for evidence of arson. (Laura A. Oda/Staff)

The blaze did about $150,000 to $200,000 in damage to the apartment and destroyed about $20,000 in contents, Poulsen said. The Red Cross was called into help the residents; occupants of the adjacent apartment will likely "be smelling smoke for weeks," but will be able to return to their home, he said.

Investigators have determined that the fire was arson, started by a Molotov cocktail thrown into the living room, according to Hayward Fire spokesman LaShon Earnest.

Staff photographer Laura A. Oda contributed to this report. Contact Daniel M. Jimenez at djimenez@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DMJreports.