Charges filed in fire that injured six children

April 17, 1997|By Kris Antonelli and Mary Maushard | Kris Antonelli and Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

A Parkville woman caring for seven children when a fire broke out in her home was charged yesterday with operating an unlicensed child care center and with five fire code violations.

The Maryland Child-Care Administration and Baltimore County Fire Department brought separate charges against Diana L. Smith of the 8600 block of Hoerner Ave. Six of the seven children and Smith's husband were injured in the blaze.

The fire, which started April 10 in the basement, was caused by a child playing with matches, fire officials said. The six children were treated at area hospitals for minor injuries and released.

"After conducting an investigation, which included interviews with the parents of the children who were in the home, the Child-Care Administration determined that Smith was operating an illegal child care center in her home," said Harry Bosk, a spokesman for the administration.

Under Maryland law, that is a misdemeanor charge carrying a fine of up to $1,000. The Child-Care Administration said Smith had received a summons to appear June 26 in county District Court.

The Baltimore County Fire Department also charged Smith with: Having the main basement exit blocked by materials.

Lacking a working smoke detector in the basement.

Having wooden paneling in the basement that violates fire code regulations for day care centers.

Having no barrier protecting children from heating equipment in the basement.

Caring for more than two children younger than age 4.

Each fire code violation is a misdemeanor charge punishable by a $200 fine and 90 days in jail, said Fire Department Capt. Rick DeFlavis.

Smith, who with her family is staying with a neighbor, could not be reached for comment last night.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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