BANGOR, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities are investigating after one person is dead and at least four others are hurt from a house fire in Bangor Tuesday morning.
According to City Manager Tommy Simpson, one person was killed in the fire, and another was rescued from the flames by Bangor police. Three other occupants inside the home were also injured and taken to the hospital.
On Wednesday, Bangor police identified the woman who was killed as Evelyn Hitchcock.
Christina Barnes lives right next door to the destroyed two-story home on Third Street, just north of M-43. She said it was her childhood home before she started a family of her own and eventually moved out.
She was asleep when the fire started Tuesday morning.
“I heard sirens, and it woke me up,” Barnes said. “I opened up my window and I looked up and I see flames and smoke.”
A total of six people were inside at the time, according to firefighters. Barnes says her aunt, cousin, brother and his girlfriend were all in the home, along with a family friend and one other person the family knows.
Once dispatchers got the call just before 8:30 a.m., it was Bangor Police who were the first to arrive. According to Police Chief Justin Weber, the homeowners told officers there were still a couple of people inside.
“We were able to get one of the people off the roof,” Weber said.
Barnes said it was her aunt who had to jump in order to escape.
“It was scary,” Barnes said. “You see fire, and you see people jumping, trying to save themselves.”
More of those who were inside started to make it out. However, Barnes’ brother was panicking, trying to find his 33-year-old girlfriend, but it was too late.
“He tried to go back in to get her, but it was like ‘You can’t. You’ve got to stay safe too.’ I’d say about an hour (later), they said that she was gone,” Barnes said. “I didn’t know her that well, but my brother loved her enough. … She was good.”
Bangor Fire Chief Derek Babcock said this was deemed a second-alarm fire, requiring multiple departments to respond. It took them around two hours to put it out on the wooden-frame structure. Crews with Consumers Energy also had to be called in to cut off utility access to the gas fueling some of the remaining flames.
“We had a little issue with the gas meter. It burned all the way through, so it was keeping the fire on the house,” he said.
According to Babcock, the fire started on the main floor, but the exact cause is still being sorted out by Michigan State Police fire investigators. He added that the home had no working smoke detectors.
“This has been a very busy time of year,” Babcock explained. “This is our 12th structure fire in the past 12 days — not just our area, but our surrounding areas as well.”
Barnes says her family has a place to stay and keep warm as they recover.
“Just pray for my family … I mean, they lost everything,” Barnes said. “There’s nothing left, so hopefully we can get them some stuff.”
According to Bangor City Manager Tommy Simpson, the city is working with the Bangor Housing Commission on housing options for the victims, who have also been offered food and taken to a local shelter.
— News 8’s Phil Pinarski and Michael Oszust contributed to this report.