ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A day care center where children could stay overnight as their parents worked was ravaged Sunday by a fire that killed five and sent the owner to the hospital, authorities said.
The victims in the lakeside city of Erie ranged in ages from 8 months to 7 years, Chief Guy Santone of the Erie Fire Department said.
At least four of the victims were staying overnight at the residential house that had been turned into a day care center, Erie Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski told the Erie Times-News.
The fire, reported at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday, was funneling out of every first-floor window when firefighters arrived, Widomski said.
Valerie Lockett-Slupski, standing across the street from the fire-damaged house, told the newspaper she was the grandmother of four of the children, and that they were staying at the day care center because their parents were working overnight. She said the family had two boys and two girls and had used the center for almost a year.
“So we are all at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened,” Lockett-Slupski said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Sunday afternoon, Widomski told the newspaper.
The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership lists the Harris Family Daycare as “a 24 hour, 7 days a week childcare service including holidays.”