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Fire destroys family home in Cass Co., crews say weather played a part

Officials: Weather impacts house fire in Wayne Township. // WSBT 22

A family is now looking for a place to stay after a fire destroyed its house.

This happened in Wayne Township Friday just north of Dowagiac.

In total, it took four departments to extinguish the flames.

Among the ice, firefighters fought to extinguish flames at a home on O'Keefe Road in Wayne Township.

It's not clear what started the fire, but it spread fast enough that the house is a complete loss.

"Not sure if it was a chimney fire or if it was just radiant heat from the stove itself. We haven't got in to do any type of inspection yet," said Assistant Fire Chief Craig Yeager of Wayne Township.

A family was inside the home at the time, but they got out safely.

For first responders, the challenge started before they could even get there.

"The weather is terrible today. Fire departments had a hard time getting here. Roads are slippery," said Yeager.

Yeager said because of road conditions it took them more than 25 minutes to get there.

"We got on scene and we had smoke rolling out pretty much every hole in the building," said Yeager.

The departments had to call in a Cass County plow truck to sand O'Keefe Road.

Even then, the trucks had a hard time maneuvering.

"We had one truck almost slide into the other one. That was close. They stopped it in time," said Yeager.

But he says despite the snowy conditions, he's grateful no one inside the home was hurt.

“There was four, five, six, 7-year-olds that got out safe and that's the main thing. Even their dogs got out safe," said Yeager. "Keep these people in your thoughts."

Yeager said that the Red Cross will help the family until they can get on their feet.

He urges everyone to keep their chimneys clean this winter and if you do have a wood stove, to keep an eye on it.

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