GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The community is working together to help a man who lost his wife and kids in a house fire Wednesday in Grand Rapids.
The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. at a home on Dawes Avenue. Wanedia Scales and her three children, ages 15, 14 and 10, were all brought out of the house unresponsive. Scales and her 15-year-old son were pronounced dead at the scene.
The other boys were taken to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, where they later died.
Many people in the community went to the family’s home Wednesday evening to offer support to Robert Scales, creating a vigil in front of the home. Grand Rapids Public Schools are offering counseling for students impacted by the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials said their initial investigation found there weren’t any working smoke detectors in the home.
The Michigan Firemen’s Association said Wednesday’s fatal blaze made Michigan the worst state in the country for fire deaths. So far this year, there have been 22 deaths in 16 house fires in Michigan, a 100% increase from the same time period last year.
Officials want that statistic to be a reminder for everyone to have working smoke alarms in their homes, which can be received for free in many communities by contacting the local fire department.