US: Fire at Pennsylvania childcare centre kills five

The house was a childcare centre for the children of parents who had to work overnight, local media reported.

    Photo released by Erie Fire department shows firefighters at work at the childcare centre [AFP]
    Photo released by Erie Fire department shows firefighters at work at the childcare centre [AFP]

    A childcare centre in Pennsylvania where children and teenagers could stay overnight as their parents worked has been ravaged by a fire that killed five and sent the owner to the hospital, United States authorities have said.

    The victims in the lakeside city of Erie ranged in ages from eight months to seven years, Chief Guy Santone of the Erie Fire Department said on Sunday.

    At least four of the victims were staying overnight at the residential house that had been turned into a childcare centre, Erie Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski told the Erie Times-News.

    The fifth victim was the child of the owner of the house.

    Another child aged 12 and a teenager aged 17 managed to jump out of the window, sustaining minor injuries.

    The fire, which was reported at approximately 1:15am (05:15 GMT) on Sunday, remains under investigation by police and fire officials, Lieutenant Szocki of the City of Erie Police Department told Reuters news agency.

    The owner managed to escape the burning house and tried to drive herself to the hospital, but was involved in car crash, resulting in her being airlifted to the nearest hospital, the New York Times reported

    Firefighters managed to reach the house four minutes after they were dispatched by 911 emergency services, according to local media.

    By then, however, the fire had taken over most of the house.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies