On August 11, a fire broke out at an Erie, Pennsylvania day care.
As CBS News reports, five children that were inside the 24-hour-day care at the time of the fire have passed away. Now, according to WSEE, three of the five children belonged to a local volunteer firefighter who was responding to a different call just a few blocks away around the same time.
The chief of the Erie Fire Department, Guy Santone, revealed that the five victims were between 8 months old and seven years old. The owner of the day care was also injured in the fire but is in stable condition. Santone told WJET:
“The lady that lived there ran through the fire to get outside. She had burned her lungs and probably didn’t realize that. And she drove herself to the hospital, and on the way to the hospital, she crashed her car.”
The fifth child who was killed was reportedly the owner’s child.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. According to reports, first responders were called to the home around 1:12 a.m. on August 11. However, Erie Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski believes the fire started in the living room area of the day care.
Widomski also revealed that there was only one smoke detector found in the entire establishment. It’s unclear if that detector was working at the time the fire broke out. Santone told WJET:
“If there were the proper amount of smoke detectors in this structure, then most, if not all, would have survived.”
Now, as Valerie Lockett-Slupski, the grandmother of four children who were being cared for at the day care, told the Erie Times-News, they “are all at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened.”
Slupski said her four grandchildren had been going to the day care for nearly a year. They were staying overnight because their parents were working. It’s unclear how many children were at the day care when the fire broke out, but reports confirm there were eight people inside the home.
Danika Scott, the neighbor who reported the fire, said she was in her home reading an article when she noticed the blaze. She told the Erie Times-Now that “the fire spread quickly after it broke out, noting that her boyfriend had left her residence five minutes earlier ‘and there was nothing.'”
The investigation into the fire remains ongoing.