Authorities say a morning fire in Pennsylvania claimed the lives of five children and sent another person to the hospital. The Erie Fire Department says the victims ranged in ages from 8 months to 7 years.
In a Facebook post, city officials said firefighters responding to a structure fire shortly after 1 a.m. rescued seven people who were trapped inside a home in the western Pennsylvania city.
On Facebook, a local firefighters union said it had been a “tough night” for emergency workers who responded to the fire.
Investigators were still working to identify the cause of the fire, though it was reported that it was possible the blaze was intentionally set.
A state-run health and human services website lists a daycare at the address where the fire occurred. A message left with a phone number for the business, Harris Family Day Care, was not immediately returned.
WICU reported last year that the day care’s owner, Elaine Harris, had run the facility for 18 years.
Harris was licensed to have six children at a time 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the station reported. She worked with kids who ranged from newborns to 13 years old.
“This is what I was meant to do,” she told the station. “I like to get them in early, teach them, instill in them their values before they get out there in the world.”
Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski told The Erie Times-News that a woman who also lives at the residence was flown to UPMC Mercy for treatment, but it wasn’t clear if the woman was Harris.
Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny told the newspaper that detectives are working to determine whether any of the victims were staying at the daycare.
Fire Chief Guy Santone told the paper that a neighbor was also injured.