Houston, TX House Fire, Dec 1978

Nine die in Houston house fire.

HOUSTON (AP) - Six children and three adults were killed early Monday when a fire whipped through a small frame house that was using a radiator hose to bypass a meter and hook up to a natural gas line, authorities said.

"We just kept finding bodies everywhere," said Fire Chief W. E. ARMSTREET of Station 19.

ERNEST SOLOMON, 19, a visitor who was among four survivors, escaped by smashing a window. "I tried to go back in and get some of the children out but I couldn't get to them through the smoke," he said. "I could hear them screaming, but I couldn't see them."

Arson investigators said the fire probably was caused by a ruptured valve on a kitchen stove.

Arson Chief L. H. MIKESKA said the use of a radiator hose instead of a meter to link with a natural gas system causes a sharp buildup in pressure in house lines because meters also serve as regulators.

"You can get anywhere from 15 to 45 pounds of pressure which could conceivably rupture the valves in heating and cooking appliances," MIKESKA said. "This is what appears to have happened."

L. P. JONES, a senor[sic] vice president of Entex, Inc., the natural gas distributor, said service to the house had been terminated July 3. Jones said makeshift connections after service termination are not unusual.

A medical examiner said the deaths are believed to have been caused by smoke inhalation. All the bodies, found in different rooms, were severely burned, the medical examiner said.

The dead were identified as CARROL FAY BOYD, 28; GLORIA BOYD, 29; CARL ERSKINE BOYD, 22; CHARLES AARON BOYD, 9; DANIEL LEE BOYD, 7; WILLIE CATHRIDGE BOYD, 2; PAULA DEHOUSE BOYD, 10; SHANTEY L. BOYD, 4 and KIMBERLY LAVETTE BOYD, 5.

Authorities said all the BOYDS were related, but they could not immediately specify the relationships.

Daily Herald Chicago Illinois 1978-12-05