Columbus, OH Natural Gas Explosion, Jan 1896

WHILE ASLEEP.

SIX PERSONS BURNED TO DEATH IN AN EXPLOSION AT COLUMBUS.

THE HIBBARD FAMILY AND TWO NIECES, OF BARNESVILLE, THE VICTIMS.

FOUR YOUNG SONS AND A SERVANT BARELY ESCAPE BY LEAPING FROM THE BURNING BUILDING -- NATURAL GAS LETS GO WITH THE ABOVE DEADLY EFFECT.

Columbus, O., Jan. 2. -- Six deaths are the result of a mysterious fire that occurred at 4:30 Thursday morning at the residence of JOHN H. HIBBARD at 1398 East Long Street.
The dead are:
JOHN H. HIBBARD.
MRS. JOHN H. HIBBARD.
MRS. CHARLES LEE, aged 22, Barnesville, O.
MISS FAY HIBBARD, aged 19, Barnesville, O.
DOROTHY HIBBARD, aged three years.
ALLEN HIBBARD, aged five years.
MRS. LEE and MISS HIBBARD, of Barnesville, are nieces of MR. HIBBARD, and were spending the holicays with their uncle. DOROTHY and ALLEN HIBBARD are children of JOHN H. HIBBARD.
Besides these unfortunate persons there were in the house at the time ANNIE BELL, a colored servant, and four other children of the HIBBARD family, viz: WEBSTER W., WALTER, JOHN and HINTON, whose ages raged from 8 to fourteen years. They all escaped by jumping from a second-story window. ANNIE BELL suffered fracture of one ankle and WALTER HIBBARD sprained one of his ankles. The others are not injured. The house is a large modern frame two stories and an attic in height, and was heated with natural gas by means of a furnace. The fire probably resulted from an explosion of natural gas, though the facts as to the origin will probably never be known. ANNIE BELL is the only one who escaped who can give anything like a rational account of the terrible calamity. The house is not badly burned, but the interior woodwork is all badly scorched. Probably the gas in the furnace which was turned low, flickered out and then the whole house was gradually filled with gas. When the air was sufficiently charged with it it was ignited from a burning gas jet. There does not seem to have been much explosive force, however, as the walls are not shattered in the least.
ANNIE BELL says she was awakened by a sense of choking, and found her room full of smoke. She tried to run over to the part of the house the family was sleeping in, but found the hall so full of smoke she could not do it, and, returning to her room, raised the window, jumped to the ground, about twenty feet and broke her ankle in so doing. Then she saw MR. HIBBARD at the window of the room where some of his children were sleeping. He dropped the four boys out and then fell, evidently overcome by the smoke. His body was found with the arms stretched across the window sill, just as he fell after dropping WEBSTER HIBBARD to the ground.
All the six bodies were found in the same room. They had evidently been awakened and ran there to escape, and were suffocated there. The bodies are all burned beyond recognition.

Marietta Daily Leader Ohio 1896-01-03