When in June 2009 fire spread from a warehouse to a center minding the children of local workers, it set in motion a chain of events that shocked the whole of Mexico and left the residents of the northern city of Hermosillo inconsolable with grief.
The fire started at around 15.00 in a heating unit and soon breached the thin walls of the center, filling it with noxious fumes. Around 150 staff and children were present at the center when the blaze began.
There were several notable acts of individual bravery as fire crews, parents and passers-by strove to rescue children from the inferno. One desperate father drove his vehicle through the walls of the center. His actions led to the rescue of many children, though sadly not his own. With anguish etched on their faces, the families could do little more than wait behind a yellow police line to see if their children had been spared. Thirty children died at the scene, mainly through smoke inhalation and the collapse of a ceiling, while 40 needed urgent hospital attention. A further 17 children died later as a result of their injuries.
Although government funded, the center was privately run. A lax system of inspection allowed it to function even though it had no working emergency exits, no sprinkler system and a partially obscured fire alarm. Proper safety measures were made all the more important by the fact that the authorities had allowed the setting up of a childcare center on an industrial estate containing a large amount of highly combustible material. The bereaved parents’ grief soon turned to anger and they demanded greater transparency in the childcare system and, above all, that someone should be held to account for their heartbreaking loss.
When was the Hermosillo Day-Care Center Fire: June 5 2009
Where was the Hermosillo Day-Care Center Fire: Hermosillo, Sonora State, Mexico
What was the Hermosillo Day-Care Center Fire death Toll: 47
You should know: Even though the center was licensed to cater only for children over two years, such was the demand for their services that some as young as six months were being looked after.