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Family of 8 survives house fire by escaping through a window

By Lauren Edwards

Portage, Michigan (WXMI) -- Michelle Sweet remembers News Year Day well, she said.

She was in the bathroom that morning when she smelled plastic burning. Then one of the kids, who was staying with her, said the house was on fire. She poked her head out of the bathroom and saw flames everywhere.

“It’s kind of devastating,” said Sweet during an interview at a friend's house near her's. “We don’t know where we’re going to go or what we’re going to do.”

Sweet said black smoked filled the house quickly. All eight of them — her two kids, her cousins and friends — escaped out the back bedroom window.

“I ended up getting cut going out the window, couple of different spots,” said Sweet holding up her hand. “The kids made it out OK. That’s the important thing.”

News of the fire spread all over Colonial Acres Mobile Park. Throughout the day Tuesday several people drove past their place on Yarmouth Street to see the rubble for themselves. One of them was Jeremy Thomas. Sweet’s 17-year-old daughter Mary Bradford babysits his children.

“They already didn’t have a lot you know,” said Thomas. “But the things that they did have, it’s sad to hear that they completely lost everything.”

Thomas said he and this wife got the phone call Tuesday morning about what happened to Sweet’s residence. The moment they found out they created a GoFundMe page to help the family and Bradford, who takes care of her younger brother and mother.

“Even though she doesn’t have the finer things in life she’s very humble with the things that she did have,” said Thomas about Bradford. “You know so losing things like that, I can only imagine what’s going on with her now.”

Bradford said she’s been with her family since the fire broke out. She doesn’t know exactly what caused it but believed it to be an electrical fire. They had seen sparks before but nothing ever came of it until now.

“I wish I just had my comfy bed,” said Bradford. “I just got all these new blankets for Christmas.”

Bradford said she’s grateful for what the Thomases are doing. Her job is even helping too. She recently began working at a fast food restaurant and they put out a tip jar to help her and her family during this time.

“My kids have some wonderful people that look out for us pretty well,” said Sweet. “I’m extremely touched. Thank you.”

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