Coatesville moving on after arsons

July 30, 2009 2:45:24 PM PDT
The city of Coatesville is trying to begin a new chapter after a series of arsons put the community on edge.The largest blaze was back in January. It destroyed more than a dozen homes, leaving 15 families homeless.

RELATED SLIDESHOW: The Fleetwood Street fire

Six months later the site of that fire on Fleetwod Street was busy with workers trying to rebuild some of the homes.

Brandy Hickman and her family lost a lot in the Fleetwood blaze. Now, she says work is slated for her mom's burned-out home.

"It's been terrible but now feeling better because they're fixing it up and we'll be placed back in there," Hickman said.

As for the remaining houses, the city is talking about tearing them down at replacing them with homes that would tie into a planned $6 million refurbishing of an Amtrak station and platform a block away.

"For purposes of commuters, particularily those heading into the Philadelphia area, this would be prime real estate," said Coatesville City Manager Harry Walker.

Coatesville suffered through 48 arsons in about 18 months. In the meantime, a number of high-profile arrests were made, including that of volunteer fire official Robert Tracey.

Since the arrests, there have been no new arsons.

Residents say people are beginning to relax, yet remain vigilant after months of fires.

"Just more aware, still leaving the lights on at night, double-checking the back yard," said Marisa Raysor.

For firefighters, these past few months have been a chace to slow down following a tough winter.

"Pretty much the whole month of January there was little to no sleep for the firefighters," said Chief Kevin Johnson of the Coatesville Fire Department.