Teams play soccer on a hillside of the capital city's Zone 18, infamous in Guatemala for gang-related crime, on February 10, 2017 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Getty Images

A fire at a children's shelter has killed 19 and injured two dozen more in Guatemala on Wednesday. The fire occurred at the Virgen de Asuncion home in San Jose Pinula, 15 miles south of the country's capital Guatemala City, the BBC said.

A spokesman for the country's volunteer fire departments told a local radio station that responders were still fighting parts of the blaze Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press reported. The spokesman said that 19 dead bodies had been found so far, indicating the death toll could climb higher.

The shelter had a history of problems that included accusations of overcrowding, abuse and escapes. The BBC reported that a riot broke out at the home Tuesday, a day before the blaze. Sixty children escaped and police were eventually forced to intervene. The building's capacity is 400, local reports said, but it was believed more children were living there. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The BBC reported that the shelter takes in children who have been abandoned, suffered abuse or have been the victims of human trafficking.

Guatemala is one of the hardest places in the world to be a child. The country is plagued by violence, as Guatemala City has one of the highest murder rates in the world and violent gangs operate with near impunity. The conditions have prompted thousands of Central American children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to flee thousands of miles, often unaccompanied, to the U.S., producing a crisis at the southern border in 2014 and 2015 that led to the creation of the Central American Minors (CAM) program.

El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are collectively known as the "Northern Triangle." Nearly 10 percent of the triangle's 30 million residents fled over the last decade, mostly for the U.S., the Council on Foreign Relations said in a report.