This tragic news article features the ROBERTS surname. Submitted by & research done by Paul Curcio.

Yester Year Stories, Backed with Today's Research



LeMars Semi Weekly Sentinel
Tuesday April 8, 1924


Alex Roberts Is Painfully Injured When Boiler Flue Bursts


Blinded with Pain Makes Way to Nearby Home

Alex Roberts, a fireman employed at the Iowa Light, Heat and Power Co., was seriously injured Friday night and is now in a local hospital recovering from his wounds. At first it was thought his injuries were fatal, but physicians in attendance say he will recover. The accident in which he was hurt occurred about a quarter to eleven, Friday night, when he was at his work firing (?) in the boiler room and a flue suddenly burst. Mr. Roberts was in the act of scooping up a shovel full of coal when the explosion occurred, and he was enveloped in a cloud of steam, scalding water, and flying debris.

The force of the hissing vapor threw hot cinders and live coal from the fire box over him scalding his face, chest, and legs.

Half dazed with the shock and pain and thinking that the other men engaged at work in the engine and boiler rooms were badly injured, or, perhaps, killed, Roberts made his way to the residence of P.J. Simeon, where his appearance with coal black face, hair standing on end, hatless, coatless, breathless, and writhing with pain from the burns, startled the family and Mr. and Mrs. Roy Calhoun, who were spending the evening there. Roberts told the Simeon family he thought the other men had been hurt or killed.

Mr. Simeon and Mr. Calhoun hastily summoned a doctor to attend to the injured man who was conveyed to the Community Hospital, and then preceded to the power plant as quickly as possible.

Harry Landgraf employed at the plant, was at the door of the fireroom when the explosion took place and was thrown several feet landing out of harm's way. The engineer at the plant, Hans Hansen, had just stepped upstairs a minute or two before the flue blew out.

Hansen on going to the boiler room was confronted with a flood of scalding water over the floor and hot steam still belching forth. He and Landraf were under the impression for several minutes that Roberts had been caught in the explosion and that he was lying lifeless behind the boilers and their feelings were relieved when Simeon and Calhoun appeared on the scene to render any assistance they could.

Alex Roberts was seen at the hospital yesterday. He is badly burned about the face, hands, chest, and legs, but his condition is much better than was expected and he has shown remarkable recuperative power and nerve since the accident, and is progressing favorably.

Mr. Roberts said the explosion occurred so suddenly that he could scarcely tell what happened. He said something hit him on the back of the head and he was spun around facing the escaping steam and hot cinders. His first thought was that the explosion had wrecked the plant and killed his fellow workmen, and he started out instinctively to secure help and hardly realizes how he got out of the boiler room.

Note: Alex survived the accident/explosion but remained hospitalized until his death from the results from the injuries. Over a period of time, it affected him not only physically but mentally and he died in the Cherokee State Hospital on July 27, 1926 – more than two years after the accident.