Woman Dies in Flames; Husband Sleeps Through It

newspaper headline - December 5th, 1916 (Washington Post)

Here we have another bizarre article from the Washington Post, published on December 5th, 1916. This one was sent to us by GoDCer John (i.e., our inspiration and Mr. Streets of Washington).

Mrs. Mabel E. Bates, 38 years old, wife of Henry E. Bates, 38 years old, former assistant manager of the Willard Hotel, died at Emergency Hospital last night from burns received when her clothing took fire in the bathroom of their flat in the Riggs apartments, Fifteenth and P streets northwest. She did not regain consciousness after reaching the hospital.

According to the story told by Bates, who is being held as a witness at the Second precinct, pending a coroner’s investigation. Mrs. Bates went to the bathroom early in the evening. As the couple had only moved into the apartment recently, the gas and electric light had not been turned on.

It is assumed that Mrs. Bates, on entering the bathroom, struck a match, and, falling over a chair in the room, the lighted match came in contact with her flimsy nightrobe. Dazed, she staggered into the dining room, where she fell unconscious.  Mr. Bates, who was asleep in his room at the time, told Police Lieutenant Bremmerman that he did not hear his wife make any outcry, but was awakened when she stumbled into the dark dining room adjoining the bedrooms. He got up, he is quoted as saying, and seeing his wife lying on the floor, picked up his overcoat and threw it over her, and then went back to bed.

An hour later Lew Woods, the colored janitor, smelled smoke and smashed in the door. He found Mrs. Bates on the floor, her clothing and the carpet smouldering. The wood work in the bathroom was smouldering from the fire from Mrs. Bates’ clothing.

The Bates moved into the apartment Friday last. They have been back in Washington for two weeks. They came here, according to Mr. Bates, from Spring Lake, N. J., where Mr. Bates had been employed as a clerk in a hotel.

How much bourbon do you need to drink to sleep through your wife being burned to death in your small apartment? Wow.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

Check Also

Old Spanish Embassy at 1521 New Hampshire Ave. NW

Spanish Embassy on Dupont Circle in 1911

This photo of the old Spanish Embassy is from 1911, showing the building at 1521 …