MEXICO CITY – Flames engulfed a day care center in northern Mexico on Friday, killing at least 29 children and injuring dozens as neighbors and teachers ran through thick, black smoke to pull preschoolers from the blaze, officials said.
The fire may have started at a tire and car warehouse Friday afternoon and spread to the neighboring ABC day care center in the city of Hermosillo, said Jose Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state investigators. But Larrinaga added that the cause of the fire and exactly where it started were still under investigation.
The fire was controlled within two hours and most children died of asphyxiation, he said.
Guadalupe Ayala, coordinator of Red Cross rescue workers, said there were about 100 children in the day care at the time, ages 6 months to 5 years.
“Firefighters had to knock holes in the walls to get the children,” he said.
Sonora Gov. Eduardo Bours said five day care workers and 26 children were hospitalized, according to the government news agency.
Most of the city’s police and public safety chiefs were at a meeting in Tucson, Ariz., when they were notified of the fire and returned immediately, Larrinaga said.