Toddler who died in daycare fire identified

January 16, 2008 9:00:18 PM PST
A daycare facility at a home residence went up in flames on the city's South Side Wednesday, killing a toddler.

As many as six children were in the home when the fire started. The fire happened shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. The day care is located at 8430 S. Saginaw.

Deborah Green spent the day wondering why her son, 22-month-old Darjon Taylor was the only child unable to escape the fire.

"I said why my baby, out of all the six, why my baby?" she said.

Homeowner Thomasine Porter escaped. Her daycare was cited last November for not having working smoke detectors. But a Department of Children and Family Services official said smoke detectors did sound during Wednesday morning's fire and that Porter's license was in good standing.

"She did very good daycare services for me," said Green.

Green said she worries about how she'll tell Darjon's father that his youngest son is dead. Dartel Taylor Is awaiting sentencing for armed robbery in the Cook County jail. He's been held there since six months before Darjon was born.

"He never even got to touch him. He('s) only seen him through the window," said Green.

On most days, witnesses told ABC7, the kids played and napped in the basement of the home. That's also where the fire started. On this particular day, there were six kids at the home when the fire started. Five of them made it out. Firefighters found the sixth, Darjon, hiding in a closet. They believe the fire scared him.

"Everything happened so quick. The house was just engulfed from the bottom to the top real fast," said Leythette Bates, helped fire victims.

"I was trying -- it felt like I was trying to get to one of my children," said Georgia Randall, witness.

Randall was one of the neighbors who tried to help the daycare owner and her husband reach the little boy.

"I couldn't find him," said Randall.

"One kid was left in the house. We tried to get in. The smoke was too strong. We couldn't get in. Brought the kids to the neighbor's house," said Deandre Hudson, helped fire victims.

Firefighters only found Darjon by using a thermal imaging camera. It revealed his hiding place, a fatal mistake that firefighters say many kids make.

"They have a tendency to try to escape the fire by hiding. And we do our best to try to emphasize and that's the wrong route to go. But unfortunately it doesn't get across to everyone," said Deputy Chief Jerome Shelton, Chicago Fire Department.

Neighbors say this home daycare business, called Porter's Playhouse, has been around for nearly a decade. Nearby residents like Dolores Bates cared for the uninjured children until their parents came to pick them up.

"They're doing fine. They got them out and I praise God for that," said Bates.

The daycare owner's son said his mother is devastated that she couldn't reach that little boy. The son says that his mom did have all of the proper permits and certifications to run a daycare out of her home.

A firefighter who fought back choking smoke to try to reach that boy was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, but is expected to be ok.