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San Francisco neighbors rally to support beloved dogwalker after destructive house fire

Community offers support for S.F. dog walker whose home burned
Community offers support for S.F. dog walker whose home burned 02:32

The outside of Terry Williams' household is now covered with handwritten signs from neighbors stapled to the outside.

He said still can't believe it was just a few days ago when flames were shooting out of the windows of his childhood home.

His elderly parents were inside the burning home and were rescued by firefighters. Terry's mother is still in the hospital, while neighbors have taken Williams and his three dogs in. They have also set up a GoFundMe page for the family.

For the last month and a half, Williams says he has been getting racial threats and harassment.

"Each time a new threat has come in, it has escalated in the rhetoric; talking about how they are going to hurt him or get him or kill him," said Teddy Butler, a relative of Terry's. 

Fire investigators are still trying to determine what caused the house fire. So far, they are not linking the threats to the fire.

Williams was at City Hall when the fire broke out, talking to city leaders and trying to call attention to the racist attacks directed at him and his family.

"We have been in this community for more than fifty years and we are not leaving," said Butler. "This can be repaired; we can fix this. This is nothing, it's the fact you are trying to run my family out of the house."

Neighbors say Williams and his family are like staples in the neighborhood, having lived in their home for more than 50 years.

"I watched Terry grow up, me and my brothers. And his mother is like my auntie and his father is hella cool," said long time neighbor Sean Williams. 

Terry says he doesn't plan to leave, but instead plans to rebuild and get his parents back in their home.

"I'm blessed to have neighbors and friends to look after us," he said.

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