The Mill Branch Road day care that burned down Friday, which resulted in the death of a 1-year-old, was in compliance with state regulations as of Feb. 1, authorities said, adding that it is working with local agencies in its investigation.
A Jan. 5 licensing study, however, cited the business for caring for more children than it should.
Rochell J. Jefferson’s 5629 Mill Branch Road day care was engulfed in flames around 1:30 p.m. Friday. Nine children and two adults were in the home at the time. Four of the children were hurt and taken for treatment at burn centers, Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter said.
One of them, Michael Duvard Jr., died Saturday at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga. Duvard died of complications from injuries sustained in the fire, said Coroner Bill Thrower.
“We haven’t narrowed it down to a cause yet,” Streeter said of the fire. “We know it started in the laundry room/carport area.”
A January licensing study by Bright From the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning cited Jefferson’s business for several infractions, including caring for more than six children.
“(The regulation) requires a person caring for more than six children for pay to make application for a license to operate a Group Day Care Home or a Day Care Center,” the January report states. “The provider cares for nine children for pay.
“The provider will reduce to six children for pay,” states the report under the heading Plan of Improvement.
The January report also cited the business for keeping hazardous items accessible to children in a bathroom and not having a crib for each child under 1 year old.
A statement from Bright From the Start says Jefferson’s day care was visited Feb. 1 for a routine monitoring visit.
“At that time, the home was in compliant (sic) with licensing rules,” the release states.
The Feb. 1 report will be posted to the agency’s Web site in the near future, according to the release.
“I am saddened by the horrific fire that has tragically claimed the life of a young child,” said Dr. Holly A. Robinson, commissioner of Bright From the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. “(The agency) has launched an investigation into this tragic event and is working closely with local law enforcement and fire officials. Once our investigation is complete, we will share the findings with the public.”
Duvard had first- and second-degree burns to 80-85 percent of his body, Streeter said. Duvard’s second birthday would have been today.
The other three children — all infants — who were sent to the burn center suffered from smoke inhalation. One of them had first- and second-degree burns on 20 percent of his body, Streeter said.
The fire marshal added that as his department gets deeper into the investigation, he expects the state fire marshal’s office to become involved. Streeter’s office is currently in the process of gathering documentation about inspections on the home and how Bright From the Start regulates such businesses.
Streeter said the fire department will conduct free inspections on residences. Those interested should contact 706-653-3520 to schedule an inspection.