Pittsburgh, PA Auto Breaks Gas Line Causes Blast, Dec 1952



Pittsburgh (AP) - A delayed action natural gas explosion which reduced a three-story frame home to a pile of rubble killed all six children of a Pittsburgh family last night.
Fire Chief Stephen Adley said the blast in the semi-industrial North Side section of this steel capital resulted from an auto skidding into a retaining wall and breaking an exposed natural gas main leading into the home.
The victims, charred beyond recognition, were sleeping when the blast rocked the neighborhood - frightening nuns who were saying their prayers in a nearby convent.
Nearly five hours later firemen, carefully picking up bits of the house with auto wrecker cranes, recovered the last of the bodies of the five sons and a daughter of MR. and MRS. ROBERT MOULIS.
The victims:
DAVID, 14; RICHARD, 13; LOIS, 12; JAMES, 10; GEARY, 6; and ROBERT, 5.
MOULIS, 37, and his 36-year-old wife, ROSE, were literally blown from the house. They were in a state of shock and nearly incoherent as they crawled from the wreckage, their faces blackened like coal miners.
"What happened? ... What happened!" cried MOULIS.
He was taken to a hospital shortly after the blast but his wife refused to leave the scene until the last bodies of her children was brought out. Then she was treated by a physician.
The second floor of the home was occupied by Mrs. Moulis' mother, Mrs. Lois Forjan, who was returning home from work when the blast occurred.
She ran screaming to the scene.
MRS. ROSE KIRKENTOLL, about 50, lived on a third floor apartment. She crawled from the wreckage along with MR. and MRS. MOULIS and was treated for shock.
"It was awful," cried MRS. KIRKENTOLL. "I just don't know what happened."
Police Inspector Lawrence Maloney said the blast occurred about 30 minutes after an auto driven by John Liput, 17, of Arnold, Pa., skidded into a retaining wall in front of the house. A gas main running through the wall to the house apparently was ruptured, Maloney declared.
Liput, returning home for the week end from his studies at Ohio State University, said he went into the house and used the telephone to notify relatives of his mishap. Then he waited outside in his damaged car for the relatives to come for him.
A few minutes later the explosion showered debris over the auto.
Dazed, but apparently unhurt, Liput left the scene, Maloney said. Later the student returned and Maloney placed a technical manslaughter charge against him and held him for the coroner.

The Times Recorder Zanesville Ohio 1952-12-06

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