Three of five children killed in a fire at the Harris Family Day Care, an overnight child care center run out of a home in Pennsylvania, were the children of a volunteer firefighter who was out on another call, an official said Monday, Aug. 12.
The blaze, which broke out in the lakeside city of Erie on Sunday morning, Aug. 11, killed five children in total and left the owner of the day care center injured.
The victims ranged in age from 8 months to 7 years old, authorities said.
Luther Jones, a volunteer with the Lawrence Park Fire Department, was responding to another call for what turned out to be a malfunctioning alarm at the time.
Jones had dropped his two daughters and his son off at the day care before beginning his night shift with the fire department. Tragically, he was working nearby in Erie that night because local firefighters were busy with the blaze that ultimately killed his three children.
“Organizationally and individually, we are heartbroken by the recent tragic fire in the City of Erie,” the Lawrence Park Fire Department said in its Facebook post. “We are grieving deeply as this has affected one of our members.”
The blaze may have been caused by an electrical overload, Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone told WICU-TV. There was only one smoke detector in the house, which was in the attic “and that did absolutely no good”, Santone added.
“If there were the proper amount of smoke detectors in this structure, then most, if not all, would have survived,” Santone said, according to CNN.