Huntington, WV Gimlet Hollow Fire Kills Two Children, Dec 1943


One Turned on Gas and Explosion Followed, Coroner Confirmed

Two children were burned to death in an explosion and fire which destroyed a four-room frame house on Cook School Road in Gimlet Hollow last night at 6:45 P.M.

Coroner F.X. SCHULLER identified the victims as Donald Ray SHARP, 3 and Ernest SHARP, 4 months old, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Novis SHARP. Another child, Melvin Lee, 4, escaped.

Dr. SCHULLER said he was informed the mother left the three small children in the care of her brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Junior MAYS, while she took her daughter, five year old Helen Marie, to a West End movie. The father works in a Norwich, Conn. war plant.

According to the story related to members of the Sharp family by the 19 year old Mays, he and his wife were in another room when Donald Ray went into the kitchen and turned a gas key on the cooking range, the coroner reported. Then a heating stove in another room ignited the accumulation of gas.

The interior of the house became a mass of flame instantly, Dr. Schuller said he was informed. Mays and his wife managed to grab Melvin Lee and dash outside, but were unable to save the other children. Mr. and Mrs. Mays suffered slight burns.

The blaze had gained such headway that firemen were unable to check it, and only the stone foundation and plumbing remained when the fire finally subsided. The bodies of Donald Ray and Ernest were virtually cremated, Dr. Schuller said.

Mrs. Sharp and the two surviving children were sheltered by neighbors last night. The bodies of the victims were taken to the Reger Funeral Home.

From The Huntington Herald-Dispatch, 18 December 1943.