CONSTANTINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two children are dead after a fire trapped them inside the building they were in near the Indiana border just after midnight Monday.
State troopers were the first to arrive on scene just outside the village of Constantine in St. Joseph County. By the time they arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.
The intensity of the fire prevented would-be rescuers from entering the building.
A neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, took photos of the aftermath.
“It looked like someone threw a firebomb up there. There’s nothing left up there,” the neighbor told News 8. “The walls are gone. There’s like one wall left. And half a wall. And it’s all collapsed on itself. The mattresses are gone but the box springs are still there where they were sleeping.”
The children, a 4-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl, were found inside the small structure located among other buildings on Timm Road near Nerrman Road in Constantine Township, south of Three Rivers.
The names of the two children have not been released.
Two people described by state police as civilians were treated for burns and smoke inhalation, but it’s not clear if they were inside the burning building or were injured attempting to rescue the children.
The State Fire Marshall’s office is investigating, but they’re releasing few details because it’s so early in the investigation.
As news of the tragedy spread, vehicles made their way down the muddy road leading to the property where the fire occurred.
“Just wanted to actually come out here and just pray,” Riverside Church Pastor Jamey Smith said.
He came to the scene when he realized he knew the children’s mother.
“I’m familiar with her. So, I just wanted to pray and come out and try to offer some support to them, any way possible,” Smith said. “The Bible says that he is near to the brokenhearted. I’m sure this is such a time of heartbreak for this family, so if we can come together as a faith community and just offer any kind of assistance we can for them.”
MSP said St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, Constantine Police Department, Constantine Township Fire Department, Fabius Township Fire Department and St. Joseph County Crisis Team responded to the scene.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call Michigan State Police at the Marshall Post at 269.558.0500 or Crime Stoppers at 574.288.STOP.
— News 8’s Michael Oszust and Corinne Moore contributed to this report.