Dowagiac woman dies after late night fire

A late-night fire took the life of a 71-year-old Dowagiac woman. Now, investigators may have discovered the cause of the blaze.

The fire was likely started when a cigarette was thrown into a trash can inside the home, according to Dowagiac Deputy Fire Chief Guy Evans.

"It appears that the fire started in a trash can in the kitchen," he said.

Lola Dodson was the only person inside the home. She was able to notify authorities via medical alert monitoring service. Dodson was an amputee and used a motorized scooter to get around. Officials say her health condition may have made it more difficult to make it out of the home quickly.

"She was unconscious when the fire crews brought her out of the house," Evans said. Dodson was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead there.

Family members were on the scene Wednesday trying to recover some of their mother's belongings. But, they tell Newscenter 16 that most of the materials are not salvageable.

Though the front of the house on the 100-block of Hendryx Street looks untouched by flames, the kitchen windows paint a different story. Bits of glass litter the ground and remnants of kitchen-ware trail along the perimeter of the property.

Evans said that the smoke reached 18 to 20 inches above the ground when crews first entered the home. Dodson's cause of death has been ruled as injuries resulting from smoke inhalation.

There were no working smoke detectors found inside the home.

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