Burned home was also daycare center - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Burned home was also daycare center

Director of Child Care Resources and Referral Soraya Miller Director of Child Care Resources and Referral Soraya Miller
Homeowner Monique Evans, and her mother Homeowner Monique Evans, and her mother

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   An investigation into an early morning fire uncovers an Albany home daycare operation that the city had no idea existed.

The house just down the street from our studio on Stuart Avenue, caught fire before daybreak.

No children had been dropped off for daycare yet, and the family that lives there got out safely.

The homeowner admits she was caring for 12 children during the day.

Firefighters and Code Enforcement officers are now investigating that home daycare that city leaders call a safety hazard.

Albany city officials say the homeowner does not have a city business license for a home day care operation, and they have never been inspected by fire marshals.....and that put those kids lives in danger. They want to crack down on those kinds of operations. The homeowners say it was only by God's grace they are alive today.

The fire broke out in the attic just after 5:00AM at the home on Stuart Avenue. The flames burst through the roof. Monique Evans said she had been smelling smoke about 3 hours before they spotted the fire.

 "And I looked up at the attic. And I saw flames around the door of the attic," said Homeowner Monique Evans.

Evans, her husband, and six children between the ages of 1 and 11 escaped, but the family lost everything.

"Thank God I am out here in the cold in my pajamas. My mom could be planning my funeral right now,"  Evans said.

Firefighters found nearly a dozen baby beds and play pens inside the home, and Evans admits she was keeping a dozen children in a home day care.

Evans said she runs a day care here too, but city officials say Evans has no license for that business, and are investigating. State officials are cracking down on home day care operations.

 "When you are receiving payment for the third child in your care or in your home, you are required to obtain a state registration," said Director of Child Care Resources and Referral Soraya Miller.

Firefighters say last night's blaze with a dozen children in the home could have turned into a tragedy.

"If you have a house full of kids and not enough staff to make sure they get out all right," said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell.

So city officials are asking people who entrust their children to home day care operations, to let firefighters know, so they can make sure they are safe.

"Come forward," said Albany Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson. "Let us know if you are keeping kids. Somebody is allowing someone else to keep their kids, let us know. We want to make sure they are safe in that environment."

Monique Evans was holding a few pictures and her water soaked Bible, but she says her family getting out of the fire alive is the most important thing. Now firefighters want to make sure any other fires at home day care operations also don't cost lives.

Firefighters say they are not sure if the home had smoke detectors. The investigation into Evans' days care is ongoing.

State officials say all properly licensed day care operations are listed on their web site, and you can check your child's center and it's safety rating there. CLICK HERE to jump there.


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