Seattle, WA White Center House Fire, Jan 1942

Tragic Fire Brings Baby Into World, Orphans Him

Oblivious of the fact that he was literally born from the ashes of tragedy—brought into the world by an emergency operation as his mother lay dying from the effects of a fire which also killed his father and brother—a baby boy was alive and healthy at Providence Hospital nursery last night.

The baby was alive only by a miracle of coincidence.

The fire which took the lives of his whole family and destroyed their White Center home, began Friday evening when the baby’s mother, Mrs. Florence Mellang, 26 years old, poured kerosene into a stove in which she believed all embers had died.

Flame Shoots Up

Instantly a great burst of flame shot up, burning Mrs. Mellang and and touching off a blaze which began roaring through the house.

The baby’s father, Kasper Peter Mellang, 38 years old, a barber, carried his wife out of the house, turned her over to neighbors and dashed back into the burning dwelling after a 2½ year old son, James Henry Mellang. The father and son died in the blaze.

A neighbor, with Mrs. Mellang in his automobile, recognized a doctor’s car, forced it to the curb, told the doctor of the fire, and took the woman to Providence Hospital. The surgeon, Dr. Robert Maves, followed.

Mother Whispers to Doctor

At the hospital, Mrs. Mellang, only half conscious managed to tell the doctor that she was expecting a baby in March. An emergency Caesarean operation brought the infant into the world, but Mrs. Mellang died shortly afterward from burns suffered in the fire.

With all of his own family gone, the baby’s closest relatives now are Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Smith, Mrs. Mellang’s stepfather and mother, and Mrs. Mellang’s aunt, Mrs. George Frechette, 11636 Fourth Ave. S. W.

Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, WA 18 Jan 1942