- Title: MEXICO: Day-care fire caused by air conditioner
- Date: 12th June 2009
- Summary: HERMOSILLO, SONORA, MEXICO (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIOR OF NURSERY ON FIRE BOY BEING ATTENDED RELATIVES OUTSIDE NURSERY VARIOUS OF BABY ARTICLES BURNED NURSERY EXTERIOR
- Embargoed: 27th June 2009 13:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAF1GDDM86OUWE88X6S0OW5YGP6
- Story Text: A fire last week that killed 44 children at a Mexican day-care center was caused by a damaged air conditioner in a neighboring warehouse, the attorney-general said on Wednesday (June 10).
Authorities are investigating whether owners, employees or government officials could face negligence charges after a fire raged through the ABC day-care in the northern city of Hermosillo on Friday (June 05), Attorney-General Eduardo Medina Mora said.
"The spotlight of the fire, where it started, is located in the central part of this warehouse belonging to the state Finance Ministry, where an air conditioner was found, which was detached from its base. This cooling system was attached to a metallic structure from the roof of the warehouse and was found on the floor with signs of overheating meaning it was in use when the events occurred," Medina Mora told reporters.
After melted aluminum from the air conditioner ignited paper on the floor of the warehouse, where the state government stored license plates and documents, heat and fire spread into the rafters of the industrial building and across to the day-care center, he said.
He said nobody was in the warehouse when the fire started and that its doors were locked.
"We calculate the spread of the fire in the central section of the industrial warehouse belonging to the state Finance Ministry to the day-care centre took 20 to 25 minutes. We have to clear up that the central warehouse where the fire started was locked from the outside with a pad lock and nobody was inside," Medina Mora said.
As the smoke poured from the day-care center, bystanders and firemen punched holes through its brick walls to reach the infants and toddlers. Questions have been raised about whether evacuation routes in the building may have been blocked.
Medina Mora also ruled out the fire was intentional.
"Legal experts from both justice institutions, collected samples from the scene which have been analysed at the central laboratory of legal services at Mexico's Attorney General's office to verify the use of petrol hydrocarbon or thinner etc. obtaining negative results, ruling out the fire was intentional," he said.
More than 140 children were in the center when the fire broke out, the government says. The facility had passed its last government inspection in May.
Some severely burned children have been flown to specialist hospitals, including the Shriners children's hospital in Sacramento, California.
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