FABIUS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A mother and child were killed in a house fire in rural St. Joseph County home early Tuesday morning, according to state police.
Authorities have identified the two people killed as 38-year-old Michelle Bixler and daughter 16-year-old Cheyenne.
It happened shortly after midnight at the home on Harder Road between Brick Chapel and Youngman roads in Fabius Township, southwest of Three Rivers.
Michigan State Police said when troopers arrived on scene, the living room and garage were fully engulfed in flames. Three children were able to safely escape through a window. They were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, according to a MSP news release.
Due to the location of the fire in the house, state police said authorities were unable to get inside to search for the mother and fourth child.
When fire crews were able to put out the flames, Bixler and Cheyenne were found dead inside the house.
Deana Richards lives nearby and was driving home from work when she saw the flames and called 911.
She ran to the home, but a wall of flames prevented her from getting inside.
“I feel pretty sad for the family, really upset,” Richards said. “Wish it didn’t happen. Wish I could have done more.”
Richards says she kept the kids warm in her car and tried to keep them from seeing more of the flames.
“The oldest daughter told me that she said she woke up and she smelt something in the house, and she went out and seen it was a fire,” Richards said. “Took her little sister into her brother’s room, told her to break out the window to get out of the house. She went to go find her parents, and her mom and her sister, they weren’t there.”
The Bixler family released a statement about the lives lost.
Cheyenne was a student at Three Rivers Community Schools.
The school district released a letter to families.
A GoFundMe account has been created to support their family.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.