ETX daycare to remain closed after fire destroys interior - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

ETX daycare to remain closed after fire destroys interior

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VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

A fire at an East Texas daycare center has left dozens of children without a place to go, and their teachers without work.

Around 11 Sunday morning, fire crews responded to Little Vandals Play and Learning Center on FM 314 in Van Zandt County.

Upon arrival, firefighters found thick black smoke and water damage, but fortunately nobody was inside. Those clues lead fire marshals to believe the fire had been smoldering for hours.

Now smoke stained walls, ash covered floors and singed tools for learning are among the things left behind from the fire. 

What caused the fire that left the beloved daycare center out of service still isn't clear, but Van Zandt County Fire Marshall Chuck Allen says an initial walk-through indicates the fire was accidental.

"I'm leaning toward it being an electrical issue... in talking to the owners here at the daycare. They've had extensive issues with power surges and electrical issues inside the building during windstorms or rainstorms similar to what we had last night," Allen says.

It took crews from Van, Ben Wheeler and Edom nearly 40 minutes to wade through the smoke to the actual fire and get it under control.

"A couple of rooms completely burned up, but the rest of it... there's just heat and smoke damage anywhere there wasn't actual fire damage," says City of Van Fire Marshal Terry Blackmon.

Between the smoke, water and fire, the interior of the daycare center is completely damaged, leaving between 50 and 60 children looking for a place to temporarily learn.

"That's what you do when you go to daycare. They still do the curriculum and all that. It's sad," says Allen.

The insurance company, their investigator and electrical engineers will determine what exactly caused the fire later this week. Until then and for the weeks to come, Little Vandals will remain closed.

The Van Zandt County Fire Marshall says, the state fire marshal's office records showed Little Vandals was due for a fire inspection in a couple months. According to the state, their past records showed they had a good fire inspection history with no documented problems.

Click here for more photos of the scene.

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