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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: Kerosene fire kills train men

An exploding kerosene lamp in a Northern Pacific freight train killed two, injuring another. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A kerosene lamp in the caboose of a Northern Pacific freight train exploded, killing two men and critically burning another.

Nobody knew what caused the kerosene to flash into flame. Four train men were in the caboose, which was about 40 miles east of Pasco at the time. The brakeman’s clothing was burnt from his body and he died at Sacred Heart Hospital in considerable pain. The conductor was also severely burned and he clung to life until noon of the next day. A third unidentified worker was still in the Pasco hospital.

A fourth worker in the caboose was uninjured.

From the food beat: It now cost Spokane households almost twice as much to feed a family as it did a year before, according to new market quotations.

Eggs, for instance, had jumped from 25 cents per dozen to 40 cents per dozen. Butter went 20 cents a pound to 50 cents. Canned milk, bananas and cornmeal had doubled.

These increases were due to wartime food shortages, amid widespread starvation in parts of Europe.

The only two things that were cheaper than than in 1917 were sugar and potatoes.