BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Authorities in Berrien County said that a massive fire at an extended stay hotel that killed a 26-year-old mother and her five children was accidental.
The fire was reported to police around 1:45 a.m. on Saturday. It was at the Cosmo Extended Living Hotel at 2699 S. M-139 Hwy.
When crews first arrived on scene, they discovered the hotel was filled with flames and smoke. First responders began evacuating the hotel and fire crews worked to fight down the flames, deputies say.
The victims who died in the fire are Kiarre Curtis, 26, and five of her children: Marquise Thomspon, 10, Gerome Randolph, 7, Samuel Curtis, 5, Savod Curtis, 4 and Avery Curtis, 2. The 26-year-old's husband, Samuel Curtis, 36, and one of her children, 1, were able to escape the fire.
Twenty-seven rooms were occupied at the time of the fire. Four individuals, including Samuel Curtis and his surviving child, and four first responders were treated and released at Lakeland Medical Center for smoke inhalation. The American Red Cross is working to find shelter for the displaced residents.
The Berrien County Sheriff's Office says that 90 percent of the rooms sustained smoke, fire or water damage.
The Michigan State Police Fire Marshal Division assisted the Berrien County Sheriff's Office to determine a cause and origin to the massive fire. They said that neither an accelerant nor illegal narcotic manufacturing were the cause. Preliminary findings show that the fire was accidental.
The fire originated from a room on the first floor of the motel. The victims of the fire were residing in a room on the second floor.
Law enforcement is still looking into the fire alarm and smoke detector system of the motel. A company out of Grand Rapids will do forensic testing on the system.
Autopsies are scheduled for the six victims for Sunday, July 29 to officially determine the cause of death, which police believe is due to smoke inhalation.
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