Fire destroys Chester Co. home, 2 injured

January 6, 2009 5:01:15 PM PST
Two people were injured as fire raced through a Chester County home overnight.

Chester County authorities said thankfully no one was killed in a early morning fire on Tuesday that appears to be yet another case of arson, in a long string of intentional blazes in that area.

It happened about 1:00 a.m. at a home near South 5th Avenue and Oak Street, in Coatesville.

Fortunately everyone got out alive. But the people who live in the house are now the latest victims of a reign of terror that has gripped the city of Coatesville for more than a year.

"I've never seen anything like it. It was amazing."

Jeannette Shockley was among the neighbors who watched in horror as flames ripped through a twin home.

Fire investigators said it was no accident. Someone pushed a trash container up against the house on the front porch and set it on fire.

Lara Mancino lives next door.

"It's scary, it's ridiculous you know you're taking somebody's life you know they could have killed all those people in that house if they hadn't gotten out."

There've now been five arson fires in Coatesville in the first six days of the New Year. They had ten last year, and several more were set in neighboring Valley Township. Investigators said most of the fires have been set on porches, using the furniture as fuel.

Last month, three young men were arrested, including 23 year old George Donkewicz. He's charged with setting a fire on Strode Avenue that killed 83-year old Irene Kempest. But, despite the arrests, the fires continue.

Five people escaped Tuesday's fire. Two were sent to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. The fires have everyone in this former mill town on edge, wondering who's next.

"What kind of people were they how can they can possibly do some of the damage to someone else's how could they possibly take someone else's life it's just something has to be done it's unbelievable," Shockley said.

Pat Hepner grew up in the house next door. She's troubled by what's happening to her hometown.

"I feel bad I really do that one woman in Easton was killed you know that really shook me up."

Once again, police are asking residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, and to keep the porch lights on.

The fire victims were taken to Brandywine Hospital for smoke inhalation.

The Red Cross is assisting 3 families, provided meals, clothing, winter coats and hotel rooms.

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