Authorities say a fire that killed five children and their mother at a Michigan motel appears to have been an accident.
The Cosmo Extended Stay Motel in Sodus Township was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived shortly after receiving a 1:45 a.m. 911 call, the Berrien County sheriff's office said.
Officials say experts found no evidence of an accelerant that would have started the deadly blaze early Saturday at the Cosmo Extended Stay Motel in Sodus (SO'-dis) Township. The precise cause still is under investigation.
The fire began in a first-floor room of the two-story motel, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Chicago.
Kiarre Samuel, 26, and five of her children, who ranged in age from 2 to 10 years old, were killed, Chief Deputy Robert Boyce said. Samuel's husband and a 1-year-old child survived. All eight were in the same room.
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"It's tragic. It tears at your heart," Boyce said. "Any time you have children, it's worse. When it's multiple children, it's even worse."
The motel is off Interstate 94 in the southwestern corner of Michigan, roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Chicago. Authorities said 27 rooms were occupied at the time of the fire. Ninety percent of the property has smoke, fire or water damage.
Boyce described the two-story motel as a place for low-income people to "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.
Samuel's husband was the father of some of the children who died, Boyce said.
"His whole world's been turned upside down," the chief deputy said.
A motel resident, Sarah Sanders, said she fled after a friend shouted at her to get out.
"By the time we get outside, the end of the building exploded," Sanders told the South Bend Tribune. "The glass shattered out and there was big whoof of flame."
The sheriff's office says investigators are also examining the motel's fire alarms and smoke detectors.