SODUS TOWNSHIP, Michigan. – A fire that swept through a southwestern Michigan motel early Saturday killed five children and their mother, authorities said.
The Cosmo Extended Stay hotel in Sodus township was fully engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived shortly after receiving a 911 call at 1:45 pm, the Berrien County sheriff’s office said.
Kiarre Curtis, 26, and five children, ranging in age from 2 to 10 years probably succumbed to the smoke inhalation, Deputy Chief Robert said Boyce. Her husband and 1-year-old child has survived. All eight were in the same room.
“It is tragic. Tears in your heart,” said Boyce. “Any time you have children, it is even worse. When multiple children is even worse.”
The motel is located along Interstate 94 in the southwest corner of Michigan, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Chicago. Authorities said 27 of the rooms were occupied and 90 percent of the property was damaged by smoke, fire or water.
Boyce described the two-story motel as a place for people with a low income get back on their feet.”
Eight people were treated for smoke inhalation and released from a hospital. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Curtis’ husband, Samuel Curtis, was the father of a number of the children who died, said Boyce.
“His whole world upside down,” the deputy chief said.
A motel resident, Sarah Sanders, said they fled after a friend shouted to her to get.
“By the time we got outside, at the end of the building exploded,” Sanders told the South Bend Tribune. “The glass is broken, and there was a great whoof of flame.”
Another resident, Robert Payne, said the fire started a few doors of his room. He said that he loved the children and sometimes gave them money for sweets.
“She never talked back; perfect,” Payne said. “It breaks my heart that I cannot go to see them no more. That is a shame.”
This story has been corrected to indicate that the police now say that the dead woman ‘ s name was Kiarre Curtis, not Kiarre Samuel.