5 children killed in daycare center fire in Pennsylvania

National

Erie Bureau of Fire Inspector Mark Polanski helps investigate a fatal fire at 1248 West 11th St. in Erie, Pa, on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. Authorities say an early morning fire in northwestern Pennsylvania claimed the lives of multiple children and sent another person to the hospital. (Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP)

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — An early morning fire in Pennsylvania at a residential building housing a daycare center killed five children and sent the owner to the hospital, authorities said.

The fire was reported in Erie, a northwest lake town, at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday, Chief Guy Santone of the Erie Fire Department said.

The victims ranged in ages from 8 months to 7 years, Santone said. The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership lists a daycare at the fire address.

Valerie Lockett-Slupski, standing across the street from the fire-damaged house, said she was the grandmother of four of the children, and that they were staying at the daycare because their parents were working overnight, the Erie Times-News reported. She said the family had two boys and two girls and had used the daycare for almost a year.

“So we are all at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened,” Lockett-Slupski told the newspaper.

The owner of the daycare was flown to UPMC Mercy for treatment, Santone said. He said a neighbor was also injured.

Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski told the newspaper that the fire appeared to have started in the living room area on the first floor. The department’s two fire inspectors and three Erie police detectives trained in fire investigations are working to determine the cause of the blaze.

The chamber site lists the Harris Family Daycare at that address as “a 24 hour, 7 days a week childcare service including holidays. We provide transportation and teach kids age appropriate skills.” The state Department of Human Services Office of Child Development and Early Learning listed the daycare as in compliance with requirements following a Dec. 28, 2018, inspection.

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