Monson, ME House Fire, Mar 1950
8 In Family Die In Fire As Monson Home Burns
Man Is Victim In Vain Attempt To Save His Children And His Mother.
Monson, March, 2 (AP) â€“ Eight members of a family of nine died early today in a fire that swept their home.
The lone survivor was a critically burned young mother, MRS. NORMA SMITH, 32.
Her night-clothing burned off, MRS. SMITH struggled naked through deep snow to seek aid after being led from the blazing house be her husband. He later perished along with their six children and his mother.
This little Piscataquis County slate mining town was shocked by the tragedy.
MRS. SMITH was reported in fair condition tonight. She was kept under sedatives at a Dover-Foxcroft hospital â€“ both to ease the pain of her burns and the shock of the tragedy. She knows that she alone survived the flames.
The victims will be buried, all in one casket, after a simple funeral at 2 p. m. Saturday, in Monson's Congregational Church. The Rev. GARD L. ROWE, pastor of the Community Church here, will officiate.
Nearly every one of the 900 inhabitants, knew Teamster ELWOOD SMITH, 36, and his young brood.
SMITH died trying to save his children and his mother, MRS. HARRIET SMITH, 68. He smashed the glass of a front storm door, led his wife into deep snow and near zero cold and raced back into the flames.
Firemen believed he cut himself badly. Blood reddened the snow near the door of the 125-year-old Lower Main Street house.
The children were CAROLYN, 11, PATRICIA, 9, MALCOLM, 7, ROBERT, 5, JUDY, 3, and CHERYL one.
Only six months ago the family lost another home by fire.
The eight bodies, burned beyond recognition, were recovered from the ruins of the one and one-half story frame dwelling. A steady stream of curious visited the scene after the bodies had been taken to nearby Greenville. Monson has no funeral parlor.
The death's swelled Maine's 1950 fire toll of 29, including 20 children. In all of 1949, Maine's fire deaths totaled 42.
Fire Chief ARTHUR E. HAGSTROM said today's fire apparently started near a kitchen oil stove, spreading quickly.
The grandmother and five children were trapped in upstairs bedrooms. The baby and her parents slept on the first floor.
A neighbor, EUGENE BICKFORD, was awakened by MRS. SMITH'S screams. He found her naked â€“ her night clothing burned off â€“ struggling through deep snow toward the road.
She collapsed when BICKFORD carried her to his nearby home. There were second and third degree burns on most of her body. She was taken to a Dover-Foxcroft hospital.
After summoning firemen, BICKFORD raced back to the SMITH home.
â€œI broke a window,â€ he said, â€œbut it was impossible to get into the house for smoke. I could hear someone moving around inside, but I couldn't do anything.â€
The SMITH'S had always resided in this area. SMITH, an independent teamster and trucker, was a graduate of Monson Academy. He was born here.
MRS. SMITH lived in Guilford before her marriage. She was employed by the Hardwood Products Company at adjacent Guilford. Her mother-in-law cared for the youngsters while she was working. She is the daughter of MR. AND MRS. DANA HARRINGTON of Guilford.
The fire loss was listed unofficially at $3,000. The dwelling was owned by PAUL SHARPE.
At Augusta, the state's chief fire inspector termed the fire a warning to others to check their heating equipment closely.
â€œIt emphasizes,â€ said JOSEPH A. P. FLYNN, â€œthe importance of taking all precautions with heating equipment to prevent occurrences such as this.â€
In another Maine fire today, an infant child was rescued and 11 persons made homeless, by a $10,000 blaze that swept a two-family dwelling at Farmington Falls.
Seven-months-old MARY LOUISE FILAROSKA was snatched from her crib by EDWARD MANTER, one of the first to arrive at the fire. The infant is the daughter of MR. AND MRS. FRANCIS FILAROSKA, who occupied one of the apartments.
Firemen said the outbreak apparently started near an oil stove.
Portland Press Herald Maine 1950-03-03