The Americas

Guatemala fires officials in youth shelter fire

  • People help Gloria Perez as she begins to faint during the burial of 14-year-old Ana Roselia Perez Junay who died in a fire at a children's shelter, at the cemetery in Zaragoza, Guatemala, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The death toll in the March 8 fire rose to 40 on Sunday with the announcement that another girl has died of burns. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    People help Gloria Perez as she begins to faint during the burial of 14-year-old Ana Roselia Perez Junay who died in a fire at a children's shelter, at the cemetery in Zaragoza, Guatemala, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The death toll in the March 8 fire rose to 40 on Sunday with the announcement that another girl has died of burns. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)  (The Associated Press)

  • People carry the coffin of 14-year-old Ana Roselia Perez Junay, who died in a fire at a children's shelter, at the cemetery in Zaragoza, Guatemala, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The death toll in the March 8 fire rose to 40 on Sunday with the announcement that another girl has died of burns. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    People carry the coffin of 14-year-old Ana Roselia Perez Junay, who died in a fire at a children's shelter, at the cemetery in Zaragoza, Guatemala, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The death toll in the March 8 fire rose to 40 on Sunday with the announcement that another girl has died of burns. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Christian preacher prays next to the coffin of 14-year-old Ana Roselia Perez Junay, who died in a fire at a children's shelter, inside her mother's home in Zaragoza, Guatemala, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The death toll in the March 8 fire rose to 40 on Sunday with the announcement that another girl has died of burns. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    A Christian preacher prays next to the coffin of 14-year-old Ana Roselia Perez Junay, who died in a fire at a children's shelter, inside her mother's home in Zaragoza, Guatemala, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The death toll in the March 8 fire rose to 40 on Sunday with the announcement that another girl has died of burns. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)  (The Associated Press)

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says he has fired a group of child welfare officials responsible for overseeing a youth shelter where 40 girls died as a result of a fire.

Morales said Monday he had fired the chain of command at the country's child welfare agency, but did not specify how many employees were dismissed.

Guatemala's human rights prosecutor said the move should have come earlier.

Jorge de Leon said his agency had asked a judge to review conditions at the shelter before the fire, but that request was denied.

The fire began when mattresses were set ablaze during a protest by residents at the overcrowded youth shelter.

Some of the victims had escaped earlier, fleeing poor food and mistreatment, but were caught and confined at the facility.