A one-year-old boy injured in a home daycare fire in Midlothian has died, according to Chesterfield Fire officials.
Joseph Allen was in the home on Valerie Court on Tuesday
. The homeowner who was operating the day care was able to successfully get the other seven children out of the home safely and was distraught to discover Allen was still inside.
Crews took Allen to VCU Medical Center where he was admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, but he later died of his injuries.
A woman whose child was also in that home is defending the daycare o
he day care operator has more than 20 years of experience watching children in her home. After the fire, she was distraught and said she didn't want to talk to NBC12.
And while there are questions, one mother says she does a great job:
"I feel for her. I love her," she said of the daycare provider who has watched her 16-month-old child since February. She asked not to be identified, but said she felt it was important to speak out about the woman she's trusted her child with.
"She came highly recommended," she says. "We checked her references. She's very diligent. She's somebody who's able to manage small children and 8 was a very unusual number."
The woman heard what she described as an explosion, and rushed to help Tuesday afternoon when she saw the house on Valerie Court on fire and engulfed in smoke.
That day, the provider had eight kids in her care. Investigators say one of those children, Joseph Allen, was left behind. He was discovered in an upstairs bedroom more than 35 minutes after firefighters arrived. "Joseph Allen, the young boy that was transported to the hospital from our fire on Valerie Court died from injures he suffered at the fire," Lt. Jason Elmore of Chesterfield County Fire & EMS said.
NBC12 has learned the daycare was not properly licensed. While Chesterfield's Commissioner of Revenue confirmed the daycare provider had a business license, and records show a business name registration form for the daycare on file, daycares caring for six or more kids also need a conditional use permit and a license from the Department of Social Services. The home was not registered with either agency as county officials say is required.
Says Elmore, "We'll look into all the details during our investigation and we'll determine if there was something that was done criminally wrong."
In the meantime, this community is reeling, especially considering many of the families here have used the babysitting services of this woman during her more than two-decades of watching children.
"This is very tragic. I feel for her family. I feel for the family of the child. This is a very hard time," she says.
Chesterfield Fire and EMS said this is the fourth fire-related death of 2014.
There is no word yet on how long the investigation will take, but according to the Chesterfield Fire Marshals the fire started in the garage and appears to be accidental.
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