HOUSTON - Three children were killed and four remain hospitalized this afternoon after a fire at a child care center in west Houston.
HFD Executive Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan said CPR was being performed on four of the children as they were being taken to a hospital. The ages of the children range from 18 months to 3 years.
Jessica Tata, 22, is listed as the operator of the day care facility, Jackie’s Child Care, at 2810 Crest Park Lane. A state child care licensing official was on the scene speaking with Tata.
An initial investigation indicates that Tata was the only adult overseeing the children when the fire broke out, Flanagan said.
Late this afternoon, Tata was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Flanagan said she may have experience increased anxiety.
According to state child care rules, Tata should not have been caring for more than six children older than 18 months of age. That is likely to be one issue Texas Department of Family and Protective Services workers will review.
A witness who lives on the block, Michael McAndrews, 50, said Tata was outside the facility during the fire frantically exclaiming, "My kids, my kids, pray for them."
McAndrews said Tata stated she went to the bathroom at the facility and when she came out the kitchen was on fire.
Sandy Sawyer, who has lived in the neighborhood for five years, said she saw firefighters rushing children to ambulances.
"I saw them running down the street holding babies, running, because there wasn’t enough room for the emergency vehicles to get through," Sawyer said.
Sawyer said when Tata was outside she thought there were still two children in the residence.
"She thought two of them crawled out of their cribs and didn’t know where they were," Sawyer said.
Sawyer said Tata thought there were nine children attending the daycare facility today, but two children apparently didn’t show up.
She said she was helping Tata contact parents.
When firefighters arrived at the scene flames and smoke were coming from the building, said Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Barry.
Five of the children were trapped inside the facility and were rescued by Houston firefighters, while the other two children were found outside the home.
Firefighters performed CPR on at least four of the children who were unresponsive, Barry said. Some of the seven children had suffered burns, while others suffered smoke inhalation.
Three of the children are at Children’s Memorial Hermann; one is at Memorial Hermann Southwest; and one is at Memorial Hermann Memorial City.
Barry could not provide an update on the children’s medical conditions.
A year ago today, the operation, registered as a "child-care home," was cited by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Child Care Licensing division for not having a fire extinguisher on hand.
She later corrected the problems, according to Gwen Carter, a DFPS spokeswoman.
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