A community has been left heartbroken after three children of a firefighter were killed in a deadly blaze at an overnight day care center in Pennsylvania early Sunday that authorities said claimed the lives of at least five children in all.
Chief Joe Crotty of the Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department in Erie told NBC affiliate WICU that firefighter Luther Jones was was responding to another call in the city and was unaware that his children were trapped in a fire just blocks away.
"Unthinkable," Crotty said. "It's really beyond comprehension."
Firefighters responded to the scene around 1 a.m. Sunday at Harris Family Day Care, where neighbors said they heard screams of two teens who escaped through a second-story window. The teens yelled that there were babies trapped inside.
Chief Guy Santone of the Erie Fire Department said the victims ranged in age from 8 months to 7 years, according to the Associated Press.
Firefighters pulled seven people from the building, but only two of them survived. Officials said the owner of the home was injured and that her child was one of the five who died.
The house was registered as a day care center where children were allowed to stay overnight and had received an inspection within the past year.
Calls to the Harris Family Day Care by NBC News were not immediately returned.
Investigators are focusing on a possible electrical overload as a cause for the fire. They also noted there was only one smoke detector, located in the attic of the home.