CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Firefighters believe a fire that destroyed a prominent Charleston physician's Putnam County home is suspicious, but said that another one reported earlier in the day at the same home is not.
Teays Valley firefighters were first called to the Stone Ridge Drive home of Dr. Joe Matusic, a Charleston pediatrician, and his wife Pamela, who runs a day care and preschool, about 11 a.m. Sunday. They found a smoldering fire in a basement room, firefighter Cody Smoot said.
The fire, deemed electrical in nature, was quickly extinguished. Smoot said the fire hadn't gotten into the rest of the house but that the smoke had killed a family cat and a fish. Another cat was rescued.
Smoot said firefighters scanned the home with thermal cameras. They left after finding no heat source. Firefighters checked on the home later in the day, scanning it again with thermal cameras. Again, no heat source was found.
They were called back to the home early Monday morning. By the time firefighters were on scene, flames were shooting through the roof of the two-story brick home.
The second fire destroyed the home, leaving only the outer brick walls. No injuries were reported.
The Putnam County Fire Investigation Team investigated the first fire and ruled the cause as electrical. Firefighters said the second fire was not a rekindling of the first.
"We're not saying it's a rekindle," Smoot said. "We're saying it's suspicious."
The fire investigation team is working with the State Fire Marshal on the second fire.
Dr. Matusic and his family were on vacation in Florida at the time of the fires.
The home was listed with Family First Realty. A family member had shown the house to a potential buyer on Sunday, according to media reports.
Sandi Elswick, the family's Realtor, declined to answer any questions without the family's permission. She said the family saw the house Monday afternoon and were "devastated."
The Matusics could not be reached for comment Monday.
According to the home's listing on Elswick's website, the house had five bedrooms, a finished third level, a pool and hot tub. The asking price was $579,000.
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