Danny Younger hasn’t slept since a suspicious fire torched his living room — and nearly claimed the lives of four family members — early Sunday morning.
“I’m scared,” Younger told NewsWorks on Monday near the charred entryway of the Germantown home, a flame-shredded ceiling above him. “I don’t want the rest to be destroyed. This is all we got.”
Packed on the porch outside was some of the belongings the blaze claimed.
That included a gnarled front door and, somewhere, the remnants of a recently purchased Christmas tree and the snow-white winter jacket meant for his four-month old granddaughter, who was among those sleeping inside the East Coulter Street property the night of the alleged firebombing.
“I’ve seen good and bad,” said Younger, “but never this bad.”
‘We were trapped’
The 60-year-old said he shot out of bed after hearing a loud boom around 1 a.m. Sunday. When he reached the bottom of the steps, all he could see were flames and no way out.
“We were trapped,” he said.
He raced upstairs and gathered his family, who, fearing for their lives, were screaming and crying hysterically. Firefighters later rescued them from the roof of a neighboring property.
Everyone escaped without injury, but a heavy dose of sadness and confusion remain.
Younger and his family say someone tried to murder them, but they don’t know who would want them dead or why.
There was some talk about a dispute with ties to a woman and her daughter and a series of prank phone calls to the fire department over the summer, but nothing that lead them to think such a terrifying incident would unfold.
“I just don’t know what’s going on,” said Younger. “It’s like a ghost.”
“It’s like someone stuck a knife in my gut,” said Carmen Pope, his wife.
Firefighters return to the block
This is the second suspicious fire on the block this month.
The first, which happened right next door to Younger and Pope, is being investigated by a task force that includes the Fire Marshal’s Office, police-department detectives and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
According to Philadelphia Fire Department officials, that blaze broke out just before 4 a.m. on Dec. 1.
The eight people inside at the time escaped after a quick-thinking resident put it out with a fire extinguisher.
It’s unclear if the two fires are connected.
Either way, neighbors are spooked — and angry.
“This is unfamiliar territory for us. We have good people here,” said Bilal El-Bedawi, whose wife slept with a fire extinguisher tucked beneath her arm last night.
“It’s embarrassing,” he continued. “You don’t want your neighborhood displayed in a public arena like this. This is what people would think of Coulter Street or Germantown.”
For her part, Pope said her community will be OK, that it’ll survive the fires.
“It’s going to rise,” she said. “The block will rise.”
She said she’ll be fine, too. The fire damaged a lot, but not what’s most important.
“They didn’t steal my soul,” she said. “They could never do that.”
The investigation into both fires continues.