Maricopa, AZ Gas Explosion, Nov 1956


Maricopa, Ariz. -- Three persons were cremated, another critically burned, and a fifth suffered minor burns Thanksgiving Day in a butane explosion and fire that destroyed a four family dwelling on the Hartman & Urrea Ranch seven miles east of Maricopa.
The blast blew down all the walls and the wreckage remaining immediately became a roaring inferno.
Trapped in the wreckage and killed were:
MRS. FLOSSIE PEAVY, 21, and her children, MIKE, 3, and DAVID, four months.
When the flames had abated enough for authorities to reach MRS. PEAVY'S form, she was found clutching one of the boys in each arm.
Her parents, CARLOS and ROSETTA CRANE, were thrown outside by the force of the blast, the former unconscious and with his clothing ablaze.
CRANE, 45, was so severely burned before other occupants of the building -- none of whom was injured -- could reach him that he was not expected to live through Sunday night at Hoemako Hospital. But, despite 90 per cent burns -- which usually are fatal -- he was still alive at a late hour Wednesday, although his condition was described as "very, very critical."
MRS. CRANE, 43, suffered minor burns on the arms and legs.
Hero of the day was JUNIOR BYASSE, 16, who lived with his mother, three sisters, and three brothers in another unit of the building -- a former Army barracks, that had been moved to the ranch and converted into four 3-room dwelling units. Two of the units were unoccupied.
Unharmed by the explosion, JUNIOR hauled each of the other seven members of his family from the wreckage before that part of the building got swept by the roaring flames.
His brother, RONNIE, then spotted CRANE'S blazing form, rushed over and pulled the burning clothes from his body.
JUNIOR ran to the ranch headquarters, about half a mile distant, to get his uncle, TOM BYASSEE, foreman of the ranch, to phone for an ambulance and notify police.
MRS. PEAVY'S husband, ALBERT, is in the Air Force, stationed at Chanute Air Base, Scott Field, Ill.
James V. Eaves, investigator from the sheriff's office in Florence, said that from evidence provided by survivors it appeared a hose connection from a butane tank had worked loose and the gas thus released was touched off by the flames of the stove.
Funeral services for MRS. PEAVY and the two children were scheduled to be held this morning at the M. L. Gibbons mortuary in Mesa.

Casa Grande Dispatch Arizona 1956-11-29