City of Erie, State Sen. Look to Close Loopholes for Daycares Following Sunday's Fatal Fire
The City of Erie and State Sen. Dan Laughlin are prepared to take action to close loopholes for daycares following Sunday's fire that claimed the lives of five children at Harris Family Daycare.
Sen. Laughlin said he started working on legislation Monday to improve fire safety at daycare facilities throughout Pennsylvania.
While the legislation is still being drafted, Laughlin said it would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to look for detectors during their annual inspections. They currently do not inspect for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, according to Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone.
Only one fire detector was found in the attic of the daycare where Sunday's fatal fire happened.
Laughlin said the legislation is designed to be simple, rather than costly or a burden.
While family daycares register with the state, they do not have to notify the city, making code enforcement, fire inspectors and others unaware that they exist, according to Santone. City officials are considering an ordinance to address that.
The city has already requested a list of addresses of family daycares located in Erie from DHS. Santone said there appears to be about 40 in the city.
Sunday's fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. at 1248 W. 11 St. in the City of Erie, the address of Harris Family Daycare.
All of the city's available firefighters were called to fight the flames, which were found shooting from the front window.
The homeowner and two teenage kids escaped, but five children were still trapped inside. Firefighters rushed in to rescue the children, which ranged from eight months to eight years in age. The children were all in critical condition. Some were in cardiac arrest.
Police, who also came to the scene, even helped perform CPR on the victims, assisted firefighters with ladders and hoses, and re-positioned ambulances. Police and firefighters even drove an ambulance to the hospital as paramedics worked to save the lives of the children.
Investigators with the Erie Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), have been looking into the cause of the fire. The fire originated by a couch in a first-floor living room and appears to be accidental due to overloaded electrical cord, Santone said. The electrical cords have been sent out to be examined by an expert.
The Erie County Coroner said the victims appeared to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation. Their remains will be released to the funeral home Tuesday afternoon.
La’Myhia Jones, 8; Luther Jones Jr., 6; Ava Jones, 4; and Jaydan Augustyniak, 9 months, will be remembered in a funeral service at Second Baptist Church on Saturday. Viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with the funeral service beginning at noon.
A vigil will be held for Dalvin Pacley, 2, Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the site of the fire. There is no word on the funeral services.
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