Seven people homeless, one critical after house fire

Posted at 2:58 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 14:58:55-05

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — One woman is in critical condition and multiple people are frostbitten and homeless after a fire in Muir, according the local fire chief.

Crews from five different fire departments fought the flames for several hours on what turned out to be one of the coldest days of the season. The temperature was -17 degrees.

Sarah Smith and her daughter, Kayleigh, are two of the seven people who lived in the home at Liberty and Garden Street. They're thankful to have made it out even with just the clothes on their backs.

"Scary situation I'm tellin' ya," Sarah Smith said.

She said she was sound asleep when the smell of smoke woke her up just before 4 a.m. Smith said she saw flames near the bathroom.

"I was just worried about getting the kids all out safe," she recalled.

Kayleigh said, "We were all freaking out because we couldn't open this door right here."

Sarah Smith said the homeowners were trapped in part of the house because a door was frozen shut until their teenage son helped set them free.

Lyons-Muir Fire Department Fire Chief Lyndon Randall told FOX 17 the wife suffered burns to her face, as well as heavy smoke inhalation and fire crews arrived to find kids standing outside barefoot with frostbite. It was a traumatic experience in the dead of winter.

"I'm glad that everybody got out. I thank the community and everybody coming together," Smith said.

Her daughter said, "I'm actually very surprised because I never realized that there were so many people — that we didn't even know — try to help us out and that means there're really good people out there."

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The chief said firefighters also suffered frostbite.

In all, the chief said three people went to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital with burns. Four people sent to a hospital in Ionia have since been released.