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4 Siblings Died in Day Care Fire

Homeowner's child also killed in Erie blaze
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2019 2:52 AM CDT
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.   (Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP)
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(Newser) – A Pennsylvania mother left her four children at an overnight day care center Saturday while she worked a night shift. None of them survived a devastating blaze that swept through the Erie home Sunday. Authorities say a total of five children died in the blaze, including the four siblings and one of the homeowner's children, CNN reports. Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone that the five children, ranging in age from 9 months to 14 years old, were sleeping on the second floor of the two-story home when the fire broke out. He says the tragedy has hit firefighters hard. "We've had our fire deaths, but nothing like this," Santone tells the New York Times. "It’s heart-wrenching." Investigators believe fire broke out around 1:15am in the front living room area of the home, which was a registered 24-hour daycare facility, GoErie.com reports.

Authorities say Elaine Harris, the owner and operator of the facility, is being treated for injuries she suffered in the fire. Santone says Harris ran through the fire to get outside and crashed her car while trying to drive herself to a hospital. Neighbor Danika Scott tells the Times that two of Harris' children, boys aged 12 and 17, survived after leaping from the second floor. "We were screaming at the kids to jump down," Scott says. "They were really scared." The chief says another neighbor who tried to rescue children from the home was also injured. Santone says investigators have found only a single smoke detector, in the attic of the home. "If there were the proper amount of smoke detectors in this structure, then most, if not all, would have survived," the chief says. (Read more Pennsylvania stories.)

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