Update: Preliminary report indicates where daycare fire started

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More details have emerged in the wake of Friday's fire that gutted a local home-based daycare.  Investigators say a preliminary report indicates the fire may have started in the laundry room of the home.

News Leader 9 has also learned, Rochell Jefferson, operator of the Mill Branch Road location, had not met numerous requirements set forth by the state of Georgia to maintain her child care provider license.

In a document e-mailed to our newsroom, the licensing study from the "Bright from the Start Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning" claims Jefferson had nine children under her care. Click here to view the report.

The state had mandated in January that Jefferson reduce the number of children in her care to six.

One of the nine children in the home on Friday, Michael Duvard, Junior, died due to injuries sustained in the blaze on Saturday.

Duvard would have turned two years old on Tuesday.

The victim's mother, Dana Richardson spoke about losing her son and dealing with a tragedy she says no parent should ever endure.

"I have not been given an accurate account of what happened. I don't know who got my baby out, I don't know how long he was in there, I don't even know the real reason why he got burned the way he did when the other children made it out with smaller burns and smoke inhalation," Richardson said.

Attempts to reach Jefferson were not immediately returned.

It is also unclear if any charges will be brought against Jefferson.

Other requirements not met by the daycare operation included in the licensing study surrounded the lack of proper bedding for children under the age of one year and an improper filing system for records of the children.

The fire remains under investigation. News Leader 9 is following this story. We'll have the latest information beginning on News Leader 9 at Five.

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