NEW RIVER, AZ — A family's holiday home was destroyed in a matter of hours after it caught fire in early December. The family, who primarily lives in South Dakota, was not home at the time.
Now, arson investigators and MCSO detectives are looking into the possibility that someone intentionally set the house on fire.
The doorbell remains. Almost everything else though, shattered or disintegrated in the inferno.
"It's a really special home that we've been going to with our children for about 12 years. And... we are usually there every holiday," said Julie Watts, who owns the home with her husband.
This Christmas, the Watts family stayed in South Dakota after their plans fell apart December 1st.
"The phone calls started at about 3 a.m.," said Watts, who initially did not believe MCSO detectives when they told her the house had caught fire.
After she got off the phone with the detective, she called a neighbor in the area.
"When he answered at four in the morning, I knew immediately. He said, 'I'm so sorry, it's a complete loss','" she recalled.
The Daisy Mountain Fire Department told ABC15 they are still investigating the fire and have not made any rulings regarding arson or the cause of the fire.
Watts, though, says there were suspicious signs. For starters, the garage door was open when firefighters arrived at the empty house.
The phone lines were also cut, "in order for our security system to be turned off. So it wouldn't alert anyone."
The family also discovered things were stolen.
"There's a mountain bike missing as well as a gun," said Watts.
The home had been recently remodeled, and Watts says many people knew the layout of the home and when it was not being occupied.
"We had a lot of people coming in and out of the house. There is no suspect at this point," she said.
The Watts plan to rebuild where there are now ashes but with some modifications.
"Moving forward we will certainly have a security system, cameras, [and] a locked gate."
The family is hopeful insurance will help cover the cost to rebuild and Watts is just happy no one was injured or killed.
"Don't take safety for granted," she said. "Get to know your neighbors and make sure you are watching out for each other.”
If you know anything about what happened on December 1, 2019 between 1 a.m. - 4 a.m. in New River, near Circle Mountain and 10th Street, call the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at (602) 876-TIPS (8477) or the Daisy Mountain Fire Department at (623) 465-7400.