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One-year-old child pulled from burning in-home Chesterfield daycare has died

Posted at 10:22 AM, Oct 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-23 10:46:45-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The child pulled from an in-home daycare that caught fire Tuesday has died, according to Chesterfield Fire and EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore. The child was identified as Joseph Allen, 1, of Chesterfield.

"It is a really rough time," loved ones of Joseph Allen told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

CBS 6 has learned young Joseph just celebrated his first birthday.

The initial investigation has reveal the cause of the fire to be accidental in nature, Elmore said.

The gas company at the home told CBS 6 natural gas has been ruled out as a cause.

Fire at in-home daycare on Valerie Court in Chesterfield (PHOTO: Chesterfield Fire and EMS)

Fire at in-home daycare on Valerie Court in Chesterfield (PHOTO: Chesterfield Fire and EMS)

There were eight children in the Midlothian home, along 11700 block of Valerie Court, when the fire started in the garage at about 12:16 p.m. Tuesday.

Elmore said when firefighters arrived the owner of the daycare told them all children in her care were out of the home, but that was not the case. Still, crews followed protocol and swept the home.

"Crews were reporting very heavy smoke conditions, smoke bank down to the floor, zero visibility," Elmore said.

The smoke prevented crews from finding the little boy in a bedroom until roughly 35 minutes after firefighters were called to the home.

"If they tell us there is someone in the home, we can do that focused search where they were last seen, but in this case that was not it," he said.

CBS 6 found no record of the daycare being licensed with the state of Virginia.

The state requires a license if a venue has more than five children being supervised, that are not related to the adult in charge.

"It is hard breaking that a tragedy can happen like this - what can you say to the family? Nothing," neighbors told CBS 6.

CBS 6 has learned possible criminal charges are being investigated by the Chesterfield Police Department.

" As far as a criminal case goes there has to be some level of negligence," legal expert Todd Stone said.

Stone said possible felony child neglect could be investigated by police as well as misdemeanor charges for not having a license. He added it is also possible that no charges could be filed.

"They are going to consider the fact she has to deal with this for the rest of her life," Stone said.

"This is an absolute tragedy," Lisa Thompson with ChildSavers said.

Thompson said, in general,  licensed facilities need to have fire plans on file with the state.

"A regulated program is responsible for conducting monthly fire drills," Thompson said.

ChildSavers  specializes in child care well being. Its hotline is (804) 644-9590.