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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Intrigue surrounded a blaze that destroyed the house of George Oska, Spokane’s bridge repair foreman.

Neighbors reported that they heard two gunshots and then saw Oska run out of the house screaming, “Murder! Murder! Help!”

Oska could shed no light on the situation, since he was in Sacred Heart Hospital, suffering from serious burns. Neighbors said there had been whispers that Oska kept money in the house and that shadowy miscreants might try to relieve him of it.

However, police were inclined to think that the explanation was simpler. Oska, a bachelor, had apparently spent the afternoon drinking at a neighbor’s house. He apparently went home and tried to light the coal oil lamp.

Police suspected that it had exploded, throwing flaming oil all over his clothes and around the room.

As for the gunshots, a detective said it was probably Oska’s own ammunition exploding in the fire.

As for the cry of “murder”? The detective said Oska was screaming, no doubt, but the words were anybody’s guess.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1969: Britain’s House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for murder.