Dallas, TX House Explosion, Jul 1911



CLYDE SMITH, a 23-month-old baby boy, was burned to death and his brother John, aged 9 years, was so badly burned that it is not believed that he will recover, when a can of kerosene with which the later was lighting a fire exploded yesterday afternoon at the home of their parents, Mr. and Mrs, W. R Smith, on the Eagle Ford road, about one and one-half miles west of the Trinity River.

The tragedy occurred at 4:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon and the baby boy died at 8:30 o’clock last night. At a late hour it was there is but slight chance for the recovery of the elder boy, who is badly burned on his left side and abdomen.

While he held the can in his hand at the time of the explosion, John Smith would probably have escaped fatal injuries but for his effort to save the life of his baby brother. When John started to light the fire, Clyde, who was on the porch, crawled up to the stove to see what was going on.

He lay on the floor near the stove when the explosion occurred and the blazing oil was thrown all over him. Thinking first of his little brother, John grabbed the baby from the floor and tried to smother out the flames by pressing the child against his body as he ran with him to the porch.

When the light garments of the baby were consumed and its whole body was cooked to a crisp, John, who had received severe burns in handling the baby, ran to a tub of water and was trying to crawl into it when his mother, who had run to them on hearing the explosion, arrived.

Mrs. Smith had started across the road to a neighbor’s to ascertain the time of day. As she was leaving John asked her if he might light the fire and she gave her permission. She had gone but a short distance when she heard the explosion.

According to the statement of a 7-year-old sister, who saw the explosion, John, when his mother gave him permission to light the fire, picked up a kerosene can which had been sitting in the sun all day and was heated to a high temperature. He poured oil from this can onto the live coals and the can immediately exploded.

When she heard the explosion Mrs. Smith rushed back to the house and found the boy trying to climb into a tub of water which sat in a chair on the back porch. She dashed the contents of the tub over the body of John and gave her attention to the baby, who was already hopelessly burned.

Mr. and Mrs. Smithson, her neighbors, heard the screams and came hurriedly to give their assistance. The wall paper in the kitchen was ablaze. Mr and Mrs. Smithson, after helping Mrs. Smith extinguish the burning clothing on her children, also stopped the fire in the room. All three of the adults had their hands severely burned.

Dr. W. R. Stovall and Dr. J. Winfield Poulter attended the children and expressed the opinion late last night that the other boy might die before morning.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 3 Aug 1911