The fire broke out around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday in a row home in the 600 block of Coats and then quickly spread to eight others.
"The fire was deep-seated into the walls and cockloft of these row homes and it took the firefighters quite a bit of time to get to the extended fire that was under about six or eight roofs of eight different houses," Coatesville Fire Department Chief Jim Lentz said.
More than 100 firefighters from across Chester County converged on the scene to battle the 4-alarm blaze.
Residents say they had to rush out of their homes, having no time to take any belongings.
"My uncle came over and said 'everybody get out of the house because the house is on fire," fire victim Arriana Naylor said.
It took firefighters an hour and a half to bring the fire under control.
"Typically in this type of construction, in these old towns, there are no firewalls unless there's been a renovation of some sort, so my hunch is there no fire stopping between the units," Lentz said.
In all, nine homes were damaged, seven of them heavily.
Eight families, comprising of 18 people, were displaced with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Arrianna Naylor says her grandmother and family were just getting ready to go on vacation.
"They just went shopping, they bought stuff for the house, they bought clothes, they were about to go on summer vacation, and now, everything that they had is ruined and gone," Naylor said.
The Red Cross gathered the families at the Coatesville Community Center as they worked to find them temporary housing for up to three days.
"We're giving them food, water, getting paperwork filled out, and giving them a place to stay for the next few nights until our caseworkers can work with them and help them find a long term place to stay," Denise Graf of the Red Cross said.
In addition, Pastor Randall Harris of the Tabernacle Baptist Church is collecting clothes for the eight families affected.
If you'd like to make a donation, bring clothing to the church at 819 Coats Street or call Pastor Harris at 610-384-7445.