Dowagiac family displaced by house fire receives community support

DOWAGIAC — A Dowagiac family displaced by a house fire is receiving an outpouring of support from community members.

The family of two adults and four children are currently living in a hotel out of town after their home received heavy fire damage on both of its floors in a Tuesday house fire.

“They’re safe,” said Michele Outlaw, administrative assistant for the Dowagiac Police Department. “They each have beds. It’s just not home.”

At 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Dowagiac Fire Department and Wayne Township Fire Department were dispatched to a reported structure fire at 403 W. Telegraph Road in the city of Dowagiac.

The fire was discovered when a teenager from the residence arrived home from school and realized the house was on fire and alerted 911. The last time a family member was at the residence was around noon.

While fire crews worked aggressively to extinguish the bulk of the fire, and the fire was declared under control in about 45 minutes, the home received heavy fire damage on both floors, and most of their clothing and possessions were damaged by the fire conditions. The cause of the fire has yet to be undetermined.

The Dowagiac Police Department, which has acted as a liaison for the family during this process, said the family has been amazed by the support shown by the community in the form of prayers and donations.

“We have seen a huge amount of support for the family,” Outlaw said. “It has been amazing. The community has stepped up. Local churches have been amazing and have delivered quite a bit to the family.”

Outlaw said that St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 306 Courtland St., Dowagiac, and St. Francis Outreach, 210 N. Front St., Dowagiac, have donated essential supplies to the family.

“They have certainly stepped in to help,” Outlaw said. “They have donated clothing, blankets and pillows for the family.”

Through the police department, the family has received monetary donations from many people as well as a large donation of clothes, Outlaw said.

“They are all set on clothes and personal hygiene products,” Outlaw said.

Outlaw added that food donations, gas cards and food cards are welcome because the children attend Dowagiac Union Schools and are not living locally right now due to the fire.

The fire was also a blow to the family as the house was one of 20 in Dowagiac awarded Neighborhood Enhancement Program grants by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority last year. The NEP is designed to launch improvement projects directly tied to enhancing and stabilizing communities. Projects can focus on neighborhood public amenity enhancements, improve residents’ quality of life, or help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the funds received from the NEP grant, the family was able to replace windows in the house as well as the porch. Outlaw said that the family is looking to rent local for the time being and will decide whether to rebuild the house or to find a new home.

Those willing to donate items can drop them off at the Dowagiac Police Station or the Dowagiac Fire Department.

“The family thanks everyone for their love and continued support during this difficult time,” Outlaw said.

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