By Elizabeth Hur

COATESVILLE, Pa. (CBS) — Heavy smoke and intense flames were caught on home video as a fire tore through nine row homes in Chester County.

The four-alarm fire broke out in the 600 block of Coates Street in Coatesville on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was more smoke than flames at first,” Louis Boyer, an eyewitness, said.

Boyer ran for his camera, as did his neighbor Shamiah Fiorentino. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the row homes across the street from where they live on fire.

Boyer recalled, “Then the smoke got more intense, and then it got darker. The whole block was filled with smoke; you could barely see the trucks.”

Vick Moscova added, “I’ve never been in a fire like this in my life, and to see it happen, it was so close to me.”

Just this week, Moscova moved into the building next door. His house was spared from the flames, but the heavy smoke damage meant he was one of 18 people displaced.

Coatesville Fire Chief Jim Lentz said, “The Fire Marshall’s office is reporting that they believe the fire to be unattended cooking at 618 Coates Street.”

Authorities say dozens of firefighters from multiple neighboring agencies responded. The fire spread so quickly, officials say, it took crews approximately an hour and a half to bring the blaze under control.

“Except those that have been renovated, there is no fire stopping typically between the units, so the fire spreads easily horizontally, which becomes a man-power intensive operation to get those areas exposed and fires extinguished,” Chief Lentz explained.

In the end, all nine units involved were destroyed according Red Cross officials. Two of the homes were vacant. Nevertheless, 18 people from eight families were displaced and getting money for food, clothing and lodging for a minimum of three nights from the Red Cross.

“To see their houses slowly burning down and you can’t do anything about it, it was pretty heart wrenching,” Moscova said.

Fortunately, officials say no one was injured in the fire.

In the meantime, the community is doing what it can to help those in need. Donations are being accepted at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coatesville. We’re told they’re in need of sheets and clothing.

If you’d like to pitch in, here is the contact information:

Tabernacle Baptist Church
Pastor Randall Harris
819 Coates Street
Coatesville, PA 19320
(610) 384-7445
(484) 786-9207

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