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Official: Woman, 3 children dead in Michigan house fire

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: A woman and three children found dead in a charred house
  • NEW: Three others taken to a hospital with injuries, official says
  • Blaze destroys three houses, damages two others in Detroit, Michigan, area
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(CNN) -- The bodies of a woman and three children were found Wednesday in a charred Detroit, Michigan-area home after an early morning fire that also destroyed two nearby houses, a fire official said.

A man who witnessed the fire said it "just kept jumping from house to house."

Highland Park fire Capt. Patrick McClelland said firefighters found the victims near the front of the wood-frame house where the blaze began. Three other people were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, he said.

The state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. In addition to destroying the three homes, the fire also damaged two others, McClelland said.

Willie Dale, who escaped from the house where the fire began, told a local TV station that his cousin, the homeowner, had been using a space heater. Video Watch as the fire rages »

Dale said he fled with his 10-month-old daughter, his girlfriend and the cousin, who is the mother of the dead children, ages 6, 9 and 11.

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"Man, I just woke up. Everybody was saying, 'Get out of the house!' I brought out my baby. And me and my girl, we got out, and the kids and my mama was still in there," he told CNN affiliate WDIV-TV in Detroit.

"I was just trying to get out of there with my baby. I wanted to grab her kids, but I couldn't see nothing. It was too dark in the house, nothing but smoke, and I was choking."

Highland Park firefighter Ryan Clark said he was among seven firefighters who raced to the scene on three engines and a ladder truck after the report of the fire came at 3:33 a.m.

"When we got off the truck, that's when people started yelling at us that people were trapped," Clark said. "The house that was fully engulfed was the one the people were in. Then that collapsed."

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Neighboring Detroit sent firefighters and equipment to help Highland Park, which is 2.9 square miles in size. Detroit fire Capt. Larry Lenard said the fire was brought under control about 7 a.m.

The city of Highland Park is situated within the city limits of Detroit. It was the site of automaker Henry Ford's first assembly line plant, which manufactured Model T cars.

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