Pittsburgh, PA Gas Explosion Destroys Home, Dec 1952



Pittsburgh, (AP) -- An explosion touched off by a minor automobile accident snuffed out the lives of six children of the ROBERT MOULIS family Saturday but left the parents uninjured.
MOULIS and his wife, ROSE, both 37, were dragged to safety by neighbors, but their five sons and a daughter died under tons of rubble when the three-story frame home collapsed.
The blast took place shortly after midnight when a gas pipe line was broken after an automobile crashed into a wall in front of the MOULIS home.
The car was driven by JOHN LIPUT, 17, of New Kensington, Pa., an Ohio State university student, who was held on a manslaughter charge.
After the accident, LIPUT went into the MOULIS apartment to telephone his uncle that he had wrecked his car. He then returned to the car to await arrival of his uncle, while MOULIS telephoned the gas company to report the broken gas line.
Forty-five minutes later the explosion blasted the front wall from the building, tumbling debris over the LIPUT car. LIPUT escaped injury.
The children were buried in the house. MRS. RUTH KIRKENDOLL, also escaped injury when she was carried to safety.
She said she was lying in bed when "the first thing I knew things were falling on me."
The grief stricken parents were taken to an adjacent school building where the mother kept repeating, "my babies, my babies." Tears streamed down her grimy face.
"You don't understand," she wept as neighbors tried to comfort her. "Things were falling all around. I couldn't get to my babies."
MOULIS, stunned and shocked, tried to comfort his wife. Then he left the school building to help firemen locate the bodies. He had aided police in drawing a diagram of the second floor to guide firemen who had burrowed into the rubble-packed basement for the bodies.
It took firemen four hours to recover all the children's bodies. Cranes and demolition equipment were used to plow through the debris.
The dead children were identified as DAVID, 14; LOUISE, 12; RICHARD, 13; JAMES, 10; GARY, 6; and ROBERT, 4.
"ROSE and I were sitting in the dining room," MOULIS said. "Suddenly there was a terrific explosion and everything kept falling around us."
"All I can remember is this awful sensation of falling and falling."
GEORGE KUSHNER, who was driving by at the time of the blast, said he rushed to a window of the MOULIS home and saw a child in a crib.
"I smashed the window," KUSHNER said, "but then the roof collapsed."
KUSHNER was joined by JOSEPH PASH, who was working for a trucking firm nearby, and the REV. SEBASTIAN LONCAR, pastor of St. Nicholas church, adjacent to the shattered home.
"We could do nothing," REV. LONCAR said. "It was just hopeless."
Wreckage was strewn for hundreds of feet in the street in front of the home. A curtain hung at a crazy angle from a trolley line. A small kitchen table lay undamaged 25 feet from the building.
A wind caught up a few charred scraps of paper from the rubble heap. A news photographer picked them up and gave them to MOULIS.
They were pictures of the MOULIS children taken several years ago.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison 1952-12-07

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 1889 Read it online

Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania : personal and genealogical, with portraits Read it online

History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania 1886 Read it online

Allegheny County : a sesqui-centennial review 1938 Read it online

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