Billy G. Taylor helped to save Hazel M. Thode from burning, Sterling, Kansas, September 11, 1963. When an explosion blew the walls of her two-story frame dwelling outward and dropped the roof onto the concrete foundation rising three feet above the ground, Mrs. Thode, 62, was severely injured and pinned beneath the debris. Taylor, 31, farmer, and Carl Russell Frederick were attracted, and the former turned off flowing butane gas from an outside tank. When Mrs. Thode answered their calls, the men discovered beneath the fallen roof a comparatively open space which led toward her. They entered the three-foot opening, made their way six feet beneath the fallen roof and debris, and saw Mrs. Thode six feet ahead of them. Because the open area decreased to 18 inches in height, the men crawled the rest of the way, at times lying prone to pass beneath the rubble. Mrs. Thode lay on the other side of the foundation wall, in which there was an 18-inch opening partially blocked by a pipe. Following a muffled explosion, flames broke out in the ruins and began to spread rapidly in all directions. While Taylor used a piece of concrete to enlarge the opening, Frederick crawled back to the outside and returned with a hacksaw. He tried to cut the pipe, but the process was too slow and the flames atop the fallen roof spread to within five feet of them. By that time Taylor had enlarged the opening somewhat. The two men obtained holds on Mrs. Thode, pulled her forcibly through the opening with difficulty, and dragged and carried her from beneath the debris. Within a few minutes huge flames enveloped the entire roof, which dropped to the ground. Mrs. Thode recovered from her injuries and burns.
46784 – 482846784-4828