(Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP)

Mother, 5 Children Killed In Michigan Motel Fire

July 28, 2018 - 11:49 am

BENTON HARBOR (WWJ/AP) - A woman and five of her children were killed in a massive motel fire in southwest Michigan.

The fire took off early Saturday morning at the Cosmo Extended Stay Motel in Benton Harbor. When firefighters arrived on the scene around 1:45 a.m., the motel was fully engulfed in flames.

The woman is identified as 26-year-old Kiarre Samuel . The children range in age from 2- to 10-years-old. Officials say all suffered fatal smoke inhalation.

Berrien County Deputy Chief Robert Boyce said Samuel's husband was also in the room, but was able to escape with a 2-year-old child. Both remain hospitalized. 

"He's heartbroken. I mean, his family is torn apart at this time. But he is doing the best he can at this point," said Boyce.

Several other people were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Officials say 27 rooms of the motel, located near the shores of Lake Michigan, were occupied at the time of the fire. Ninety percent of the property has smoke, fire or water damage.

Leroy Johnson, who lives in motel, told WSBT-TV he thinks the fire started in his room.

“As I woke up, next to me, my bed was on fire. I said 'Oh my god! Oh my god,'" Johnson told the TV station. "I hurried up and jumped out and once I jumped out, the whole room explode."

Boyce described the two-story motel as a place for low-income people to "get back on their feet."

A cause of the fire remains under investigation but officials said Sunday they do not believe the cause of the fire is suspicious.