Burnt Out

Coatesville residents picking up and moving out in fear

The word “PEACE” hangs on the front of Brandy Hickman’s home along Fleetwood Street in Coatesville, but it has been pure anarchy for the woman and her family since arson left them homeless.

“You know, we lost everything,” Hickman told NBC10’s John Blunt Tuesday.

The Hickman’s home was one of 15 houses severely damaged in a fire Saturday night. It was the 14th arson of the year in the Chester County community.

Now, the home her mother had just purchased after saving for 13 years is nothing but a burned out shell of broken memories.

“She bought it and she just got her deed last month. Now it’s gone, now it’s gone. My kids and me, my mother, my brother are homeless with nowhere to go,” Hickman said.

Clarissa Thomas’ family was also left homeless in the Fleetwood Street fire. They are moving into a temporary apartment, but she says they are getting out of town.

“Bottom line, I’m out,” said Thomas, “Our landlord is getting us a temporary place to stay just so we can get back up on our feet again cause really, we don’t want to live in this city no more.”

Other residents continue to live in fear as federal and state investigators work to find whoever is starting the fires. In some homes, entire families are sleeping in the same room, keeping an emergency bag packed by the door, should the firebug strike them.

A small fire lit under a porch Tuesday night, simply added to anxieties. The fire was started in a trash can on the 500 block of Coates Street. It was quickly put out by firefighters. Police are investigating the incident.

Officials have been asking homeowners to keep porch lights on and band together in a town watch to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior. They have also imposed restrictions forcing residents to remove trash and furniture from the front and backs of their homes.

There has yet to be any word on leads in the case, but the Coatesville City Council will be holding a town meeting Wednesday night beginning at 7 p.m. in the Gordon Elementary School.

A $17,500 reward is being offered, but Roxy Washington said she will do whatever it takes to keep her family safe.

"If I catch someone where I am, at my dwelling, I'm not going to be accountable for my actions because they are trying to harm my family," Washington said.

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