Tidbits from Then and Now
Rutland Herald January 26,1935
Submitted by Mickey Kelly and Fred Remington
Boy Hero Saves Dog, Cattle But Is Badly Burned
14-Year Old Clifford Gee in Hospital Suffering From 2d degree Burns
Victim of an explosion of gasoline bought during Rutland’s recent “gas war”, Clifford Gee, 14 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Asa Gee of Horton street, is in the Rutland Hospital suffering from 2d degree burns about head, hand and legs received during his heroic rescue of a dog and five cattle trapped in a blazing barn early yesterday morning. His condition is considered serious.
Stubborn flames, spread by the explosion of a 50 gallon drum containing only a few gallons of gasoline, were put out by the combined forces of two Rutland fire stations, after an hour battle in sub-zero weather. Loss from the fire was estimated at $300.
The origin of the fire was attributed indirectly to Thursday night’s cold snap which froze the pipes in the one and a half story Gee barn.
Young Gee went out shortly after 6 o’clock to tend to the cattle housed in the lower part of the barn and finding the pipes frozen, lighted a gasoline blow-torch with which to thaw them.
Because the water was running freely, however, the fuel in the torch was exhausted, Gee took the torch to the first floor of the barn were the gasoline was stored in two 50- gallon drums. The gasoline was purchased as a measure of economy during the slashing of prices by competing filling stations. One of the drums was empty.
After draining a gallon of fuel into a container, Gee proceeded to load the torch. In the transfer from one container to another, several drops of gasoline fell on the hot burner. There was a sudden flash and with a roar the gallon tin blazed up, surrounding the boy in a sheet of flames.
Young Gee, with the fire sweeping about his head, ran to the house where his mother smothered his burning garments. Then, though the fire in the meantime had spread to the partially filled drum and was rapidly gaining headway along the floor, the young man re-entered the barn and led to safety the five cattle. As soon as they were beyond range of the mounting flames, he rushed back into the barn and freed the dog.
With the animals no longer in danger, Gee ran to the home of R.V. Knight of 20 Curtis avenue, nearly 500 yards away. From there he was taken immediately to the hospital.
The alarm was turned in at 6:30 a.m. by Knight who saw the flames from his home. Knight stated that while on his way to the fire box he met young Gee running towards his neighbors where he intended to call the fire department.
Assured by Knight that the alarm would be sounded, Gee dashed on down the street and ran into Knight’s home crying “will you get a doctor for me?”
Before Dr. Stewart Ross could reach him, however, he was rushed to the hospital where he received immediate treatment.
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