Day care where 5 children died in a fire wasn't inspected for smoke detectors

Posted Wednesday, 14 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The Pennsylvania home day care where five children died in a fire early Sunday wasn't inspected by state or local authorities for smoke detectors because of loopholes in regulations, officials said Tuesday.The Harris Family Daycare in Erie, where a blaze killed four siblings and a child of the owner, apparently didn't have enough smoke detectors, Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone said. Investigators located only one in the house, he said; it was in the attic. State regulations indicate there should have been one on each floor of the two-story home. Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services carried out the yearly safety inspections at the facility. DHS' fire-safety checks include exits, space heaters, fire places, wood and coal stoves and fire drills, DHS Press Secretary Erin James said in an email to CNN, but "the current regulations do not allow for citing a child care facility for compliance with fire safety codes including the presence and functionality of smoke detectors.""This is an unthinkable tragedy, and we are committed to working with other state agencies and local partners to ensure that child care facilities are properly monitored for smoke detectors in the future," James said. "We are committed to closing this gap and all options, including amending DHS' existing regulations, will be considered in the immediate future."Pennsylvania state code requires child care facilities run out of a home to have "a smoke detector on each floor and in the basement.""If the Department of Human Services observes a possible fire safety violation, it will request additional fire safety inspections by the appropriate agency," in line with state codes, James said of the current process.Santone said the city inspects for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. However, Harris Family Daycare was not registered with the city government because a "loophole" in regulations meant that any child care facility founded before 2004 only had to register with the state, he said."When they (state officials) do their inspections, they don't inspect for smoke detectors. They don't inspect for fire extinguishers. They inspect for things like cleanliness, make sure that there's nothing laying around that a child can choke on, things of that nature," Santone said of the DHS, speaking at a press conference Tuesday. "That has to stop." Eight people were on the second floor of the house when the fire broke out around 1:15 a.m. in the first floor living room, Santone said. The fire chief indicated that inspectors are focusing on an extension cord as the cause of the blaze.Two teenagers who escaped the fire were alerted by the house's one smoke detector, which was in the attic, Santone said. They got out by jumping from a second-floor window onto a porch of the home. By the time the detector went off, the house was already filled with smoke, Santone said.State Sen. Dan Laughlin said he has drawn up legislation to have smoke detector checks added to DHS inspections of day care facilities. "Unfortunately, it can happen again, because there's thousands of these day cares across the state of Pennsylvania that are unprotected right now, at least as far as we know," Laughlin said at the news conference. The day care had an active "certificate of compliance," state records show. The latest inspection of the home, in December, cited several things that needed correcting, including protective covers on electrical outlets and the removal of ashes and cigarette butts. The inspection did not mention any concerns with fire safety.The victims were between the ages of 9 months and 8 years. Three of the four siblings were children of a firefighter from nearby Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department. CNN's Julia Jones, Darran Simon, Holly Yan, Jason Carroll and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

New Delhi (CNN Business)The man who implemented India's biggest economic reforms of the 21st century has died. Arun Jaitley, who served as India's finance minister for the last five years, passed away on Saturday in New Delhi. He was 66. Jaitley took...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Clearwater, Florida (CNN)The man who fatally shot Markeis McGlockton in a controversial "stand your ground case" was found guilty by a jury Friday night, and McGlockton's family says they can now begin to heal.After six hours of deliberation, a jury...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)Earlier this month, Hong Kong's protesters brought the city's airport to a standstill. Now, as another weekend of demonstrations begins, the city's famously efficient subway has pre-emptively shuttered some of its own stations -- angering...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The Paradise High School Bobcats had their season stolen from them last year. The team in Northern California missed the playoffs for reasons out of their control after the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise in the span of two and a half weeks ...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Six people were injured in a prison riot in San Diego Friday night, according to a Cal Fire spokesman.The riot took place at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, Capt. Thomas Shoots told CNN."Approximately 100 inmates were in the yard at...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Taras Petryshyn started out in Clifton Public Schools as a high school student, then a custodian. Now, he's about to start his first school year as an assistant principal in the same district. "I cannot really explain how special it is," he told...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)As politicians on Capitol Hill clashed over immigration, Corbin Kunst had a different struggle ahead of him: successfully crossing the Mexico-US border hundreds of feet in the air.The government had been shut down for a historic 35 days, in a...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)The dangerous new twist in the tariff war between the United States and China will heap ominous pressure on the global economy at a moment when it is already struggling in the undertow of their trade superpower showdown.China's...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Biarritz, France (CNN)This weekend, Boris Johnson makes his leadership debut on the world stage at the G7 in the French resort of Biarritz.It is a moment the UK Prime Minister has cherished since childhood. And, in the eyes of many Brits, he has gambled...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN)"Why do you shoot the animals?" I asked through an interpreter.The Murle hunter, a semi-automatic weapon slung over his shoulder, definitely didn't appreciate my question.We were in Boma in South Sudan, close to the border ...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The office of an African American diversity change agent at the Department of Education was vandalized this week, department employees told CNN on Friday.One employee said the woman's diploma had been knocked down and that some figurines in her...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)NASA is examining a claim that an astronaut improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station, The New York Times reported Friday -- potentially the first criminal allegation from space. NASA...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)A United Kingdom consular worker who was detained in China for 15 days has returned to Hong Kong, according to his family.Simon Cheng was detained by Chinese authorities after traveling to the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, two weeks...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Obi-Wan Kenobi will bring the Force to Disney+, which -- along with the first trailer for "The Mandalorian" -- capped the studio's presentation for its new streaming service at the D23 Expo.Ewan McGregor -- who played the Jedi Knight in three "Star...

Posted Saturday, 24 August 2019 ‐ CNN

Hanover, New Hampshire (CNN)During a town hall Friday afternoon, former Vice President Joe Biden asked a New Hampshire audience to imagine what it would have been like if Barack Obama had been assassinated when he became the Democratic nominee for...