SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A U.S. Senator is now calling for a full investigation into the fire that killed 15 children at an orphanage in Haiti.
That orphanage was owned by a nonprofit organization based in Scranton, the Church of Bible Understanding.
There remain many questions about the fire that killed 15 children at an orphanage in Haiti. It happened on February 13th. It is owned by Scranton-based Church of Bible Understanding.
Senator Bob Casey is calling for a full investigation after a fire in a Haitian orphanage operated by the Scranton-based Church of Bible Understanding killed 15 children.
“This is a tragedy which took the lives of vulnerable children and health care workers. I pray for the victims and their families,” Casey wrote in a statement to Eyewitness News. “There must also be a complete investigation into this incident, which includes what happened during the fire and whether proper safety protocols were followed in the lead up to the fire. Any organization that operates a facility like this must be held to high standards and held accountable if those standards are not met. Right now, there are too many unanswered questions about this fire, which is why a full investigation is warranted,” he added.
On Tuesday, Eyewitness News obtained exclusive video of the burned out building. Garbage was piled up in bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways. The I-Team confirmed through federal tax records that the company claims more than $19 million in assets and spends about $600,000 a year operating two orphanages in Haiti.
Eyewitness News has since also confirmed that the Church of Bible Understanding and its wholly owned subsidiary Olde Good Things owns 12 properties, 11 of which are located in the city of Scranton. Wednesday, the I-Team visited the offices of Licensing and Inspections to find out if those properties are up to safety and health standards. We were told to file a Right to Know request with the city since they are privately owned properties.
Eyewitness News also spoke to Lackawanna County officials at the county offices and confirmed that the Church of Bible Understanding does pay property taxes of around $125,000. About $7,000 of that total is paid on the Olde Goode Things warehouse on Gilligan Street.
City officials say all the city fees are paid on buildings connected to the church. However, it is still unclear why the church, which is listed as a non-profit 501(c)(3) is paying taxes on all of its properties. Lackawanna County officials did not have an answer. Eyewitness news has reached out to the IRS for comment.
Church officials have not been accused on any wrong doing in connection with the fire.