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Local ties to Haitian tragedy

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Children’s lives are lost in Haiti and the organization that was responsible for running their orphanage, is based out of Scranton.

A fire ripped through an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, just outside Haiti’s capitol, Thursday night. In its wake — Haitian nurses confirmed at least 15 children are dead.

The Orphanage in Port-Au-Prince after a fire claimed the lives of 15 children. Courtesy: Associated Press

The non-profit organization, Church of Bible Understanding (CBU), is based in Scranton. They run two children’s homes in Haiti, including the site of the fatal fire, and their official physical address is an antique sales warehouse on Gilligan Street.

The phone number listed on their official website… a dead end.

“Thank you for calling. This is Layla on a recorded line. Can you hear me ok,” asked the recording before pausing four seconds and continuing, unprompted. “Great. With our exclusive promotion you’ll save hundreds on DirecTV.”

Our mission: to find any evidence of CBU’s existence. A local garage near the antique warehouse confirmed.

Olde Good Things, an antique warehouse in Scranton and listed address of the Church of Bible Understanding Scranton office.

“Yes I have heard of the Church of Bible Understanding,” said George Rushin of George’s Garage. “We do actually work on some of their vehicles.They may stand out here and give some literature to people walking by, sometimes.”

Eyewitness News reached out in person to those at the antique shop and other offices via telephone. Anyone affiliated with the organization declined to comment.

Reports over the last 10 years have shown that the church claims more than $19 million in assets and spends more than $600,000 a year funding two Haitian orphanages but both the homes and the organization have documented issues — the latest, claiming the lives of more than a dozen children.