SYRACUSE — Sixteen children and staff were safely evacuated after an early morning fire caused extensive damage to a day care and preschool center in Syracuse Thursday.
“Everyone got out and no one was hurt,” said Lakeland Learning Center Director Becky Gray, as she wiped tears from her eyes. The learning center is located at 1205 N. Long Drive in Syracuse.
Turkey Creek Fire Territory Fire Chief Mickey Scott said the call came in at 7:33 a.m., and the fire was contained in 15 minutes. Scott said there were no injuries and the staff had evacuated the building before firefighters arrived at the scene. The cause of the fire has been determined to be accidental, with $80,000 in damage to the building.
Scott commended Gray and her staff for following fire-safety training procedures as they stood in the parking lot and looked at the charred front door of the center.
"We have worked with the staff in training and they did exactly what they were trained to do," Scott said. "Closing the interior doors kept the fire out of the classrooms and confined to the hallway and common area. Closing doors works."
Children between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years old were evacuated to St. Andrews United Methodist Church, just a few doors down from Lakeland Learning Center.
“I want to thank St. Andrews Church for allowing us to evacuate into their building,” Gray said. “I want to thank everyone that came to our assistance. We all appreciate it very much.”
Gray said she is in the process of finding an alternative location for the learning center.
Sherry Van Arsdall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 317. Follow Sherry on Twitter @svanarsdall_TGN