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Darby Township fire that killed woman could be arson, chief says

Woman killed in Delaware County fire, family speaks out
Woman killed in Delaware County fire, family speaks out 02:27

DARBY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) -- Police in Darby Township, Delaware County, are investigating a suspicious fire that killed a young woman with a disability. 

The police chief tells CBS3 preliminary findings show there is a strong possibility this is a case of arson.

A family member of the woman said those who lived at the house are devastated by the death of their loved one, and on top of that, they have lost nearly everything.

Flames took over a home on Sharon Avenue early Sunday Morning and killed a 20-year-old woman with cerebral palsy.

"She couldn't communicate verbally, but she'd give you the biggest, beautiful smile," Lynne McFadden, the victim's great aunt, said. 

McFadden declined to identify her niece, but she believes she was targeted by someone who knows her family.   

She and other family members visited the single-family house, which was destroyed, while the Red Cross stopped by to provide financial help for temporary housing.

"My sister called me at 12:40 this morning and I've been awake ever since," McFadden said. 

McFadden said several people were able to escape, including the victim's mother, who is a Philadelphia police officer. The victim's caregiver 

The fire also woke up neighbors who say crews were on scene for hours as they worked to put out the flames.  

"I'm praying for them, but it was a bad night," Kevin, a neighbor, said. "I think they stabilized things at around 5:30 this morning."

"They were just screaming, a bunch of screaming and then the fire was just overtaking the house. It was really, really bad," Tina Artiswatson, another neighbor, said. 

Darby Township police say they're still investigating and they have a suspect, but so far charges haven't been filed. As for McFadden and her family, they have a message for the person who did this.

"I want him to spend the rest of his life in prison and that's still not good enough," McFadden said. 

McFadden said the family believes an accelerant was thrown onto the porch and set on fire. 

So far, police have not confirmed that. 

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