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2009 Mexico Nursery Fire Sees 22 Arrested

A judge in the north-western Mexican state of Sonora has ordered the arrest of 22 people in connection with a deadly fire in a nursery in 2009.

Forty-nine children died and more than 70 were seriously injured when flames spread through the ABC nursery, which did not have an emergency exit.

Relatives of the victims have long demanded justice saying the nursery did not comply with safety regulations.
But a lawyer for the relatives said the warrants targeted the wrong people.

Mistaken Move

Prosecutors asked a judge to issue the arrest warrants for the director of the nursery and some of its management and teachers. Gabriel Alvarado, a lawyer for the relatives’ group Hands United for Our Children called the move “erroneous” arguing it did not target the officials responsible for the tragedy. He said it could punish those who had risked their own lives, and in some cases had suffered injuries, trying to save the children.

Mr Alvarado added that one of the teachers who could face arrest has a daughter who suffered burns to 95% of her body in the fire. “This girl could now see her own mother taken to prison,” he said.

Tragic Chain Of Events

The fire started at a warehouse in the city of Hermosillo on 5 June 2009. The flames quickly spread over a roof to the adjoining nursery, where the children where having their afternoon siesta. The nursery did not have a sprinkler system or any fire extinguishers.
The smoke alarms were faulty and the staff were poorly trained.

Victims’ relatives argue that the tragedy could have been prevented if the right safety measures had been in place. They also point to the fact that a nursery should not have been housed in a building adjacent to one storing tyres and flammable materials. They are angry that while dozens of officials were put on trial, only the government official who carried out the nursery’s final safety inspection has spent any time in jail.

Their anger is further compounded by a media report published last year alleging that the fire in the warehouse may have been deliberately caused to get rid of compromising local government documents stored there. The official report concluded it had been triggered by a short circuit.