4 people dead in Thursday morning house fire

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Three Oaks, Mich. Four people are dead after a house fire broke out in Three Oaks, Michigan early Thursday morning.

Crews were called to the 200 block of North Elm St. in Berrien County around 5:30 a.m. and remained at the scene for hours due to it smoldering with hot spots.

Michigan State Police say a passerby spotted flames coming from the home and called 911. He stopped his vehicle and began honking his horn to attract the attention of anyone who might be inside. After seeing no response, he attempted to enter the home but was stopped due to the heat.

When firefighters extinguished the blaze, they discovered four bodies insides. Two were found in the living room area, and two in the northwest bedroom. It is believed the occupants of the home are the victims, however, until positive identification can be made the names cannot be released; this is expected on Friday.

One dog and three cats also perished in the fire.

The damage to the house was severe and police say the fire was likely active for a significant period of time before the 911 call was made.

The elderly male homeowner was a heavy smoker and there were no working smoke detectors in the residence, according to police. The cause of the blaze is still unknown.

"We had some difficulties with ice, freezing of lines, fire hydrants were frozen," said Three Oaks Assistant Fire Chief Mike Young.

Neighbors tell NewsCenter 16 an elderly couple and their adult daughter lived there and have been long-time residents of Three Oaks.

Many departments responded, including Michigan State Police Niles Post, Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit, Three Oaks Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff Department, Three Oaks Fire Department, New Buffalo Twp. Fire Department, Chikaming Twp. Fire Department, Galien Fire Department, Three Oaks Ambulance, and the American Red Cross.

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