Volunteer firefighter loses 3 children in Pennsylvania daycare fire: 'It's really beyond comprehension'
A volunteer firefighter lost three children in a fire that destroyed a Pennsylvania daycare on Sunday, according to NBC News.
The blaze, which broke out early Sunday morning, killed five children in total and left one woman injured.
Luther Jones, a volunteer with the Lawrence Park Fire Department, was battling a separate fire just blocks away at the time.
Jones had dropped his children off at the daycare before beginning his night shift with the fire department. Tragically, he was working nearby in Erie that night because local firefighters were busy with the blaze that ultimately killed his children.
"[It's] unthinkable," Lawrence Fire Chief Joe Crotty told NBC News. "It's really beyond comprehension."
The blaze occurred at the Harris Family Daycare, an overnight childcare center run out of a home in Erie, Pa. The victims ranged in age from 8 months to 7 years old, officials said.
There were eight people inside the house when the fire started, according to WJET News. All five children were rushed to the hospital, where they were later pronounced dead — some after experiencing cardiac arrest.
Valerie Lockett-Slupski, who was the grandmother of four of the victims, told New York's WNBC that her grandchildren had been going to the daycare for nearly a year.
"We are all at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened," she said.
Two teenagers who were also at the daycare managed to escape the fire by jumping off the building's roof. A ninth person — a neighbor who ran into the blaze to help others escape — was also injured.
Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone told WICU-TV that the blaze may have been caused by an electrical overload. Santone added that there was only one smoke detector in the house, which was in the attic.
"If there were the proper amount of smoke detectors in this structure, then most, if not all, would have survived," Santone told CNN.
The Lawrence Park Fire Department said on its Facebook page Sunday that it would be launching a donation campaign to support Jones. Details surrounding the fundraiser have not been released.
"Organizationally and individually, we are heartbroken by the recent tragic fire in the City of Erie," the department said in its post. "We are grieving deeply as this has affected one of our members."