The community is mourning the loss of five children after a fire rips through their Erie home. A total of eight people were reportedly inside at the time. Five children did not survive.
It was just after 1 a.m. Sunday when the 911 calls started coming in. Erie Firefighter’s were sent to a home in the 1200 block of West 11 Street. The house was completely engulfed in flames when the first fire team arrived.
That fire also sent one woman to the hospital. No word on her condition at this time. Samiar Nefzi was live from the location this morning.
The community is mourning the loss of these kids that range in ages from eight months to seven years old. At the time of the fire, eight people were inside the house that also operated as a daycare.
According to fire officials, when the fire started the kids were on the second level of the single family house. Two teenagers jumped from the roof of the house, managing to escape the fire.
Fire Chief Guy Santone said no foul play is suspected. It is possible the fire may have been caused by an electrical issue. Chief Santone added there was heavy fire coming out of the windows.
Chief Santone also said his department was not informed that the house was a licensed daycare when they arrived, and he is going over the idea about making an ordinance requiring residences to make the city aware they are an active daycare facility.
According to the Erie Times News, the owner of the daycare is Elaine Harris. Harris was taken to UPMC Mercy for treatment.
Neighbors told Action News they cannot believe what happened. Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper released a statement regarding the fire, saying in part, “Our hearts go out to the loved ones who lost someone in this terrible fire. Our thoughts are also with the first responders, the 911 call takers, the EMT’s, the firefighters, and the police officers.”
She continued, “Erie is a tight-knit community in so many ways, and I know we will rally to support the families of all those involved. I ask my fellow citizens to join me in praying for those dealing with this horrible tragedy.”
The County Executive also said the counselors were being made available to Erie County 911 Center Telecommunicators who were involved in the emergency call and dispatching. The names of the victims have yet to be released.
The Hamot Health Foundation has announced they will be redirecting Hamot Erie Gives donations to the families, and to the first responders of this tragedy. Four of the deceased are grandchildren of a longtime Hamot employee.