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West Side fire 'suspicious,' investigators say

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials say a fire that destroyed a West Side apartment building is suspicious.

The fire broke out Monday morning at an apartment building at 201 Beuhring Ave.

No people were injured in the fire, but Charleston firefighters rescued two dogs from the burning building. A third dog was unaccounted for.

Capt. Chris Cooper, a Charleston Fire Department shift commander, said that fires that break out during the day are typically considered suspicious. The fire was "intense" when firefighters arrived on scene, he said.

Cooper said the department commonly rescues and treats pets at fires. Fire victims are usually more concerned about their pets than their possessions, he said.

One of the rescued dogs, a 5-month-old pit bull named Neela, was unresponsive when firefighters pulled it from the building. Firefighters resuscitated the animal and it was taken to an area veterinarian clinic.

"We pretty much brought the animal back to life," Cooper said.

The dog's owner is 15-year-old Autumn Mooney.

"That's the only thing that matters," the Capital High School sophomore said of her dog's rescue.

Mooney was on her way to school Monday morning when her sister, Paticia Ford, called her to tell her the news.

"She kept saying 'I'm sorry,' that our house is on fire," Mooney said.

Ford, 25, was in the family's apartment watching a movie at the time the fire broke out. Ford said she had recently taken the batteries out of her smoke detector. A neighbor alerted her to the fire. She could hear the smoke detectors from other apartments, though, she said. Ford and Mooney lived in the apartment with their mother and Ford's boyfriend, Ford said.

Charles Mosley, an apartment building resident, was at work at a nearby KFC when he got word of the fire. He immediately came home to get his dog, who was still inside. Firefighters took Mosley into the burning building to let him call for the animal, a 3-year-old pit bull named Little Mama. The dog made it out without incident.

"It's like a child, really," Mosley said while holding the dog's leash. "You get an animal -- pets are just like [having] a child."

Mosley lives in the apartment with his cousin, who was not at home at the time of the fire.

"I hope that everyone gets help because everyone's going to need it," Mosley said. "Especially us because we lost everything."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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