Two Burned To Death In Rural Home
Oil Used For Starting Fire Causes Blast
Mrs Frieda Curneal, 24, wife of James Curneal, was burned to death and her 17-month-old daughter, Sandra Lynn, was burned fatally when their two-story frame home, two miles west of Madisonville, on rfd 1, was destroyed by fire which started at 5:30 pm Monday.
According to Mrs Curneal's niece, Helen Williams, 14, who lives in North Madisonville and had been a guest in the Curneal home since Sunday night, Mrs Curneal poured kerosene from a can onto embers in the kitchen stove.
A flash of flame licked the can which exploded, and burning liquid was scattered over the mother and child, saturating the clothing of each.
The Williams child, who was reading in the kitchen, said Mrs Curneal asked her to take the baby outside, which she did. Her story, as retold by the husband and father, was confused as to details after that. Mr Curneal, who is employed at Camp Breckenridge, Union county, did not learn of the tragedy until he returned home at night.
Finds Child In Ditch
Attracted by the fire, Carl Williams, a neighbor, found the little girl lying in a ditch not far from the burning building. He removed her clothing and when Graden Osburn, rural mail carrier, came along on his way home, Williams and Osburn took Sandra Lynn to Hopkins County Hospital, where she died at 8:40 pm.
The body of the mother was not recovered until 10:30 o'clock, after the burning mass had cooled sufficiently to permit search. Neighbors and members of the Madisonville fire department, including Firemen J L Jackson, Richard Preston and Jasper Clayton, under direction of Assistant Chief Brank McKinsey, searched the ruins and came upon the charred body, burned beyond recognition.
It is thought Mrs Curneal, after sending her daughter from the house, lost consciousness as flames enveloped her. When help arrived, the house was ablaze throughout and entrance to the kitchen was impossible.
May Have Been Gasoline
Deputy State Fire Marshal Levi Baker, Owensboro, in Madisonville on other business, said today a young neighbor of the Curneals told him Mrs Curneal usually kept a can of kerosene and a can of gasoline in the kitchen; that he had seen them there. From description of the flash and explosion, Mr Baker believes Mrs Curneal poured gasoline, not kerosene, on the fire, either through mistake or in an effort to hurry heating the stove.
Two other Curneal children, Jerry Sue, 7, and Bobby, 10, with their cousin, Tommy Dixon, were playing in the yard when the blast occurred and were unhurt. Helen Williams also was reported uninjured.
Bodies of the mother and daughter were placed in a single coffin in the S T Harris Funeral Home, North Main, last night and a double funeral was conducted by Elder J D Shain in Olive Branch church at 11 am Tuesday, with burial taking place in the church yar.
In addition to her immediate family, Mrs Curneal is survived by her parents, Mr and Mrs Gabe Clayton; two brothers, Mason Clayton and Larry Clayton, all of Hanson rfd 2; two sisters, Mrs Lois Rudd, Louisville, and Miss Norma Clayton, of the Hanson address. She was a niece of J Wallace Brown, 573 Wells avenue.
Olive Branch Cemetery, Hopkins County, Kentucky.
James Curneal, 1915-19--