Police officers woke up two families, telling them to get out of their homes early Monday morning, as the house between them burned.
New Whiteland fire officials said the blaze at a vacant home at 1114 Ashland Ave. was intentionally set, and they want the public’s help to figure out what happened, New Whiteland fire chief Derek Wilson said.
About 1:20 a.m. Monday, New Whiteland police officers frantically knocked on the doors of two homes in the 1100 block of Ashland Avenue, in an attempt get the residents out. At least 11 people and their pets were evacuated, and five were children under the age of 7.
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No one was injured in the blaze.
Officers and firefighters were called to the home after receiving a call about a fire. The caller was unsure of the address, according to a report from the New Whiteland police department.
The home that was set on fire was completely engulfed and is a total loss. The home, which borders Tot Park in New Whiteland, had been vacant for more than a year, a neighbor said.
The blaze also damaged the home next door, melting the siding, Wilson said.
Residents of that home, which includes five children, are now staying with relatives because of water and smoke damage to the home, said Bob Gregory, a resident’s grandfather.
On the other side of the home that burned, the home was not damaged, but the residents were evacuated.
The family of four, including two parents and two adult children, had gone to bed a little more than an hour before they were awakened by police banging at their door, telling them to leave the home, resident Abby Hamilton said.
“We were all sleeping and they told us to grab our stuff and come outside,” she said.
They scooped up their dogs, laptops and bags and waited on the sidewalk across the street from their home for nearly three hours. Six local fire departments worked to put out the fire. New parts of the home were catching fire as soon as firefighters got part of the blaze under control, resident Jack Hamilton said.
“They just had a hard time getting it out,” he said.
Firefighters also hosed down the side of the Hamilton’s home and yard that faced the blaze, but their home was never touched by flames, Jack Hamilton said.
The family was asked to move their vehicles because landscaping that lines their driveway was at risk of being engulfed, Abby Hamilton said.
“It was scary. If our house had burned down, it would have been awful,” she said.
Firefighters and police are investigating, but the fire was set on purpose, Wilson said. He declined to discuss details about the fire and the investigation.
Anyone who knows information about the blaze or may have seen something suspicious in the area Sunday night or early Monday are asked to call the New Whiteland Police Department at 317-535-5858 or the New Whiteland Fire Department at 317-535-4902.