Hackensack, NJ Heater Explosion, Feb 1936

4 Hackensack Children Die in Heater Blast; Father Is Gravely Burned in Rescue Attempt

HACKENSACK, N. J., Feb. 22 —
Four children, ranging in age from
40 days to 8 years, were burned to
death tonight, despite efforts of
their father, who received possibly
fatal injuries in attempting to rescue
them.
They were the children of Mr.
and Mrs. Thomas Vetri, occupants
of a small frame bungalow on Garibaldi
Road, near Route 2, on the
outskirts of Hackensack. Barbara,
the infant; Rose Marie, 2 years of
age; Louis, 3, and John 8, had been
put to bed early in the evening in
a room in the attic of the bungalow.
The parents had banked a
coal stove kept in the room, so that
the children would not suffer from
the cold. The father and mother,
shortly before 9 P . M., had gone to
their own room, adjoining that of
the children, to retire.
At about 5 minutes after 9 the
parents heard an explosion in the
room of the children. Screaming,
the mother, Mrs. Annette Vetri,
36 years old, ran toward the sound,
only to be stopped by rapidly
spreading flames. The father, 40
years of age, seized his wife, pushing
her down a stairway, and
shouting after her that he would
bring the children.
Mrs. Vetri accordingly ran from
the house. A few minutes later the
husband ran out, badly burned. He
had been unable to force his way
into the room in which the children
had been sleeping.
Neighbors meanwhile had notified
the Hasbrouck Heights police, who
telephoned an alarm to Hackensack.
By the time firemen arrived
the glow of the flames had drawn
dozens of motorists.
None of the throng that gathered
near the bungalow was able to be
of assistance, however. The bodies
of the children were found in t he
cellar after the house had been
burned to the ground.
The father was taken to Hackensack
Hospital, where it was said
that his condition was critical. Mrs.
Vetri also remained at the hospital
after being treated for burns and
lacerations.
The police said that an accumulation
of coal gas might have caused
the stove to explode.

Feb. 23, 1936 edition of The New York Times