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Records show Berrien County motel had past issues with fire alarms

Within the last few years, the Cosmo Extended Stay Motel received a number of compliance violations.

SODUS TOWNSHIP, Mich - Documents from Sodus Township show that there were complaints made against the Cosmo Extended Stay Motel in Berrien County, which caught fire on Saturday killing six people.

Crews say the fire started in a room on the first floor. Twenty-six year old Kiarre Curtis and five of her children were on the second floor and died from smoke inhalation. Curtis' husband, Samuel Curtis and their 1-year-old child were able to escape the fire.

According to documents obtained, in 2016, Michigan's Fire Marshal's office was contacted through an email from the supervisor of Sodus Township. David Chandler told investigators the Cosmo Extended Stay Motel was being used by the Department of Corrections as a halfway house for parolees. Complaints were also made that items were being stolen from the building.

The inspection reports indicates that Chandler told investigators that all doors at the motel were being locked at night to stop the thefts and that the fire alarm system was not working. He also says the building was under Federal Receivership for Unpaid Taxes.

Six days after Chandler's e-mail, the fire marshal's office scheduled an inspection of the facility.

Investigators noted three issues that needed to be fixed including, fire extinguishers needing to be certified by a licensed company, the fire alarm system needing to be brought back into compliance and all lock devices needed to be removed from any door with an "exit" sign. The state gave a 60-day window to rectify those issues.

On March 28, 2016, the fire marshal's office followed up at the Cosmo and concluded that the fire alarm system still was not fixed. The owners were then given another 14 days to fix the fire alarm system. On the final inspection in May, the state's report indicates all three of the concerns were "satisfactorily corrected."

In the wake of the deadly fire, other residents of the motel raised concerns and questions about the smoke detectors and fire alarms in the building.

"There was no smoke detectors in no rooms. I was staying out here for six months," former resident Alfonso Dortch said.

Neighbors say had the smoke detectors been working, it may have saved Kiarre Curtis and her children.

"The only smoke detectors...only went off after the fire was extinguished," resident Michael Powell said.

Investigators are working with a company out of Grand Rapids to see if the smoke detectors were working at the time of the fire. The motel was also cited in the past for other safety concerns.

There are several state compliance violations for the motel stemming from 2015, including sanitation for roach and bed bug infestations and no notice of employee training for asbestos when a sample taken from the motel showed 25 percent asbestos.

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