The father of three of four siblings killed in a fire at a Pennsylvania day care is a volunteer firefighter who was responding to another call at the time of the blaze, a fire official said.
At least five children were killed and two people injured in the blaze that ripped through the center in Erie early Sunday, authorities say.
Chief Joe Crotty of the Lawrence Park Township Volunteer Fire Department told USA TODAY that volunteer Luther Jones was out on a call that turned out to be a false alarm as his department helped handle other calls while Erie firefighters responded to the day care.
The tragedy is "beyond comprehension," Crotty said.
Four of the five children killed were siblings, other family members told local media.
"I'm just so hurt my babies are gone," the children's mother, Shevona Overton, told Erie News Now. "I love them dearly. I just hurt inside knowing that my kids were fighting and hurting in that fire. Every minute, I feel the same pain."
Overton identified the children, two boys and two girls, as La’Myhia Jones, 8; Luther Jones Jr., 6; Ava Jones, 4; and Jaydan Augustyniak, 9 months.
Fire officials have not released the names of the dead but said the fifth child was a 2-year-old boy, the Erie Times-News reported.
'The fire was just nuts': At least 5 children dead in Erie blaze, authorities say
"I'm never going to be the same," Overton told Erie News Now. "I lost a piece of me that can never be replaced. It's just something I have to live with, and it's going to be hard to do."
Valerie Lockett-Slupski, the children's grandmother, told the Erie Times-News that the children were staying at the day care because their parents were working overnight.
Crotty said Lawrence Park Township Volunteer Fire Department has set up a fund for the family to cover medical and funeral costs with Northwest Bank.
The fire is believed to have started on the first floor of the house, but investigators found just one smoke detector on the three floors of the structure, the Times News reported.
The children were pulled from the second story, and at least two teens who lived in the home escaped by jumping from the roof, the newspaper reported.
Police were still investigating the fire's cause.
Contributing: Kristin Lam and The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Erie daycare fire in Pennsylvania: 4 of children killed were siblings