Portales, NM Fatal House Fire, Aug 1930

Lives of Four Snuffed Out in Portales Fire

Helpless Father Watches Mother and Three Children Perish.

Special to The News.
Portales, N.M., Aug. 17.-While the head of the household looked on helplessly before the threat of crumbling walls and roof, Mrs. D. G. Horn and her three children were held in a funeral pyre at their farm home southwest of here at 10 o’clock Sunday morning.

Beside the wife and mother, the victims found in the east room were Junior, 8; Robert, 5, and Doris, 5. The elder daughter, Nell, 15, had escaped when her mother sent her a few minutes before to the neighbor home of W.M. Strickland, a half mile distant, to ask if they were going to a singing that evening. Before reaching the Strickland home, Nell looked back and saw the flames.

William Strickland, the neighbor, reached the house ahead of his neighbors but found it ready to fall and dared not enter. The roof and walls fell in, revealing the charred bodies of the four. They were burned beyond recognition. The mother had been preparing beans for dinner and just before the tragedy the children had been playing with neighbor children in the yard when she called them all in the house and sent the elder one on the errand.

The children were found, one on top of the mother’s body and another’s body on top of the third child at her side. The skulls had been crushed by falling timbers.

When the fire began, the father, and another son, Duke, 19, were at a post office three miles away. It is believed the mother, in filling an oil stove from a five-gallon can of kerosene, accidentally allowed it to become ignited and then ran stumbling and flaming into the east room. The door was found closed, shutting off escape.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 18 Aug 1930