St. Mary's, WV Rural House Fire, Dec 1956


St. Mary's, W. Va. (UP) - Five members of a rural family burned to death, but six others escaped, when fire engulfed their three-room frame home seven miles north of here today.
Pleasants County Coroner C. A. Ruttencutter said flames spread quickly through the home of LAYMAN SPEECE, 55, when his daughter MABEL used crude oil in trying to start a fire in a woodburning stove, and the oil exploded.
Trapped in the home and fatally burned were SPEECE, an employee of the Weirton Steel Co., who was home for the weekend; his wife, DOLLY SPEECE, 47; the daughter, MABEL, and two of SPEECE'S grandchildren, HARRY E., 2, and BRADY, JR., 1.
The babies were the sons of MRS. FRANCES SPEECE, divorced wife of the elder SPEECE'S son, BRADY.
She escaped, along with SHIRLEY SPEECE, 7, DARRELL SPEECE, 13, and BEARL SPEECE, 18, all children of LAYMAN SPEECE; another grandchild, GARY, 3, son of FRANCES, and a boy who had been staying with the family, CURTIS HALL, 5.
Ruttencutter said all the members of the family were in bed except MABEL when she went to the kitchen and tried to start a fire about 7 a.m.
BEARL SPEECE suffered burns in trying to get the younger children out of the blazing house, but was released after treatment by a doctor.
The fire was out of control when firemen arrived from St. Marys. All of those who died were trapped despite the efforts of firemen to save it inside. Flames leveled the home.
Ruttencutter said LAYMAN SPEECE had been employed at Weirton for a number of years, although he was a native of this area and continued to maintain his family residence here. He came home regularly on weekends and holidays, the coroner said.

Marysville Journal-Tribune Ohio 1956-12-28