By Meng Jing
The death of a toddler in a fire at an unlicensed kindergarten in Chaoyang district on Sunday has triggered social concerns about the safety of education institutes in Beijing.
Sunshine Fairyland Kindergarten, located in Dongba town, caught fire at around 1 pm when its 10 children, aged between 2 and 5, were taking their afternoon nap. Nine were rescued, but a two-and-a-half year old girl died on the scene from smoke inhalation.
The commission of education in Chaoyang district responded with a call for a comprehensive inspection of all kindergartens in the district on Monday.
Zhou Ying, director of the private education department of the commission, insisted that her department regularly checked the qualifications of private kindergartens in Chaoyang district. She refused to comment on the fire.
The Beijing Times yesterday reported that there was one female worker in the kindergarten at the time.
Firefighters arrived at around 2 pm, 10 minutes after the emergency call, to find three of the four rooms on fire.
An employee surnamed Li at the Louzizhuang fire department said they had sent 10 engines equipped with 70 firefighters to the scene.
"The number of firefighters we send depends on if there are people trapped inside the house and how large the fire is," Li told METRO yesterday.
Local man and witness Wang Lei arrived at the scene at around 2:30 pm on Sunday.
"By the time I arrived, the fire had already been put out. The road was blocked by the police and no one could get close," he said yesterday.
"All the rescued children seemed calm. I think they were too young to realize the seriousness of the accident," he added.
The kindergarten started business in 2008 without a license, It was owned by a couple from Hebei province.
A spokeswoman surnamed Liang from the Party committee of Chaoyang district told METRO the owners of the kindergarten should take full responsibility for the accident.
"The existence of these family-run kindergartens comes from a demand in society. They are much cheaper than public kindergartens and therefore very popular among migrant workers," Liang said.
I think the accident should serve as a wake-up call to all parents. It is high time for them to consider the safety of their children and not just worry about money," she added.
Liang said these kindergartens were hard to control because owners would open them in their own homes and claim they were simply offering babysitting services to their friends.
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