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No criminal charges will be filed in fatal motel fire

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich.—The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday that no criminal charges will be filed in the July 2018 motel fire that killed a mother and five of her children.

On July 28, 2018, during the early morning hours, a fire broke out at the Cosmo Extended Stay Inn that resulted in the deaths of Kiarre Curtis, 26, and five of her children: Avery Curtis, 2, Savod Curtis, 4, Samuel Curtis, 5, Gerome Randolph, 7, and Marquise Thompson, 10.

Autopsies showed that all six deaths were caused by smoke inhalation.

All six deceased, as well as surviving family members Samuel Curtis, 36, and daughter Autumn, 1, had occupied room 212.

An investigation showed that the fire began in room 135.

According to the prosecutor’s office, no evidence was found to suggest that someone intentionally caused the fire or deaths.

Investigators found that the fire was likely caused by the “careless use of a hot plate by the occupant in room 135,” but they say this act does not warrant criminal charges.

According to the four page report released on Monday, the owner of the building, Sodus Hospitality Inc., had all individual rooms equipped with smoke alarms, but due to the property’s extended stay nature, residents could disable them, therefore some people heard the alarms and some people did not.

The prosecutor’s office determined that again, no criminal charges are warranted in regards to Sodus Hospitality Inc. ensuring that all rooms had working alarms.

According to the report, working or non-working alarms did not contribute to the deaths of the Curtis family.

The law now requires that individual room alarms be connected in a series, but due to the year the building was built, the law did not apply, the report said.

According to the report, had the smoke alarms been connected in a series, assuming that the occupants did not disable it, the alarm in the room of the fire's origin would have set off the entire building's alarm system, and could have allowed the deceased to attempt to leave the building sooner than they had.

The report said that a working pull alarm fire system is not relevant to the case and there is no evidence that the alarm system was pulled.

As the fire began on the first floor, and smoke was released into the hallways and stairwells by those rooms near the fire, a working smoke detector in room 212 would not have given the Curtis family advance warning, the report stated. 

A 2016 inspection of the motel required the correction of multiple fire and life safety elements but a following inspection showed that those corrections had been made.

The report concludes with stating that no evidence of criminal negligence and no evidence that the pull fire alarm system was not operational, therefore, no criminal charges will be filed in relation to the deaths.

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