Laughlin Calls for State Probe of License Approval for Day Care Facility Involved in Fatal Fire

Erie – Citing reports of missing smoke detectors, State Senator Dan Laughlin today called for an immediate investigation into the deaths of five children at Harris Family Daycare center over the weekend.

Five children, ranging in age from nine months to 8 years, died in the blaze which fire officials said began on the first floor of the building. Authorities said they found only one smoke detector, in the day care’s attic.

State law requires smoke detectors throughout the building. Reports also suggested an overloaded extension cord was found behind a couch on the first floor.

“Records from the Department of Human Services say this facility was inspected on December 28. We need to know how and why Harris family Daycare was approved for a license renewal, given the conditions cited by authorities here in Erie,” Laughlin said.

Harris Family Daycare, located at 1248 W. 11th Street in Erie, was the subject of annual inspections. On December 28, 2018, inspectors noted five deficiencies, including the presence of cigarette butts and ash in part of the home, and exposed electrical outlets.

All of those deficiencies were listed as remedied and the facility’s license was renewed.

None of the inspections noted an absence of smoke detectors. Under state law, day cares are subject to state building code regulations enforced by the Department of Labor and Industry.

“I am calling on the secretaries of Human Services and Labor and Industry to open an immediate and open inquiry into how a facility entrusted with the lives of small children failed to meet the most rudimentary standards of safety,” Laughlin said.

Contact: Regina Smith


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