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Coatesville victims frustrated with fires

January 26, 2009 10:12:36 AM PST
The deliberately set inferno destroyed 15 homes and left 14 families looking for answers and a place to live. Click here for map of suspicious fires from December 7, 2008 to January 24, 2009 in the Coatesville area.

John and Teena Thomas and their four children escaped physically unharmed, but they lost virtually everything.

"All I remember is people banging on the door, running out of the house, screaming and hollering, I just grabbed my clothes and ran out of the house," John said.

"Watching everything just go up in smoke, your last 20 years of your life, it's hard," Teena said.

John Wenger is thankful he and his neighbors got out alive.

"If they would have started that fire at two in the morning, I might not be here. They started at 11:30, everybody got out," Wenger said.

"We got out with basically what we got on our back. We just got up and ran out, banged on a couple doors. All I could tell them was, 'get out of your house, grab what you can, and go,'" Vicki Dorsheimer said.

In the temporary shelter of a school Sunday morning, there were fire victims who were bitter and weary and, in a sense, speak for Coatesville's entire population of 11,000.

"We're not sleeping at all in Coatesville because of these fires; it's just ridiculous, please get to the bottoms of this. We lost our homes, a lot of people, today," Lenny Hardin said.

"There's nothing but firetraps. A lot of vacant houses in Coatesville that nobody lives in that are just firetraps; they're just asking to be burnt," Rick Mullen said.

"I hope they catch the person who did it and make them pay for it," John Thomas said.

The residents of the burned out homes on Fleetwood Street are being lodged at a nearby Holiday Inn for the time being as the city works out longer term plans for them.

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