Five children killed in Pennsylvania day-care fire, while fire fighter father at a different incident nearby, US
A 29-year-old fire fighter lost three children early on Sunday morning, 11 August 2019, when a fire broke out at an overnight day-care in Pennsylvania as he responded to another call just blocks away. Luther Jones, of the Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department, was responding to an automatic fire alarm when the blaze started at Harris Family Day Care in Erie, a spokesperson for the fire department said. The Erie Fire Department responded to the day-care incident, and it wasn’t until hours later that he received the tragic news that three of his children had died in the fire. “I can’t imagine what that poor young man is going through,” Lawrence Park Fire Chief Joe Crotty said. “The poor kid. We’re doing everything we can. We all went over as a fire department and brought him food and sat down and talked with Luther.”
The Erie Fire Department said fire fighters were called to the 1200 block of West 11th Street just after 1h00 following reports of a structure fire with multiple occupants trapped inside. Five children died as a result of the blaze and four were siblings, with Jones fathering three of them, a spokesperson for the Erie Fire Department said.
“Two teens escaped through the second-storey window,” the spokesperson says, noting that they suffered injuries from broken glass. “The next-door neighbour suffered some minor burns because she tried to enter the building and could not do it.”
Shevona Overton told media that the four siblings were her children, identifying them as La’Myhia Jones, 8; Luther Jones Jr., 6; Ava Jones, 4; and nine-month-old Jaydan Augustyniak.
“I’m just so hurt my babies are gone,” Overton said. “I love them dearly. I just hurt inside knowing that my kids were fighting and hurting in that fire. Every minute, I feel the same pain.”
The owner of the facility, Elaine Harris, suffered burns while trying to escape the building and was then injured in a car crash after leaving the location. She remained hospitalised on Monday, 12 August 2019 and was unable speak as a result of her injuries, another Lawrence Park fire official said.
“There were a number of extension cords underneath a carpet and underneath the couch where the fire originated, so we’re leaning toward over-loaded extension cords,” the spokesperson says, adding that an electrical engineer is working to confirm the cause. “There was only one smoke detector and that was in the attic. By the time the smoke got to the smoke detector in the attic, it was too late.”