'They were trying to kill us:' Detroit homeowners lose everything in fire

Woman believes break-in, fire are connected

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Kayla Clarke

DETROIT - A woman believes a robbery and break-in are connected to a fire months later that destroyed her Detroit home.

The home on Hazelton Street was robbed in mid-March and then, this past Sunday, it was burned down in a devastating fire. She believes the two incidents are connected.

"My husband opened up the front door and the whole front porch was on fire," Janice Thomas said.

Thomas said she believes someone poured gasoline from their front door to the side door and lit the place on fire. Her husband went out a side door and ran to her aid, knowing Thomas can't walk. Thomas locked herself in the bedroom to keep the smoke out while she tried to climb out the window.

"By the grace of God, he made a way for me to stretch the window enough for my husband to pull me out, and when he pulled me out we fell together. We was out here like Adam and Eve with no clothes on," Thomas said.

Thomas called 911 and the Detroit Fire Department arrived just as her husband pulled her from the burning house. Thomas and her husband had lived in the house for five years and she said last month, someone they recognized as a neighbor broke in while they were sleeping.

Detroit police investigated the break-in and the couple cooperated with police. She believes their cooperation with the investigation is what brought on the fire.

"I don't bother nobody," Thomas said. "They were trying to kill us."

Thomas sat outside of what remained of her home in defiance.

"I'm sitting here. I wanted to let people know people can't take lives like that. You can't just burn people out for no reason and people didn't do anything to you," Thomas said.

Neighbors and their church donated clothing and the couple are living in an undisclosed location. They're currently looking for a new home and a new start. They've been in touch with the Red Cross but that's not nearly enough help.

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