There were four fires in the life of Woody Guthrie.
In 1967 Woody Guthrie died of Huntington’s Disease, a progressive neurodegenerative genetic disorder. His mother, Nora, also had the disease. Three of the fires happened in his childhood. First, their family home burned down. Second, when he was seven, his sister was playing in the yard, and inexplicably caught fire. She died shortly thereafter. Finally, his father was badly burnt in a similarly unexplained fire.
While it isn’t known, most scholars who study the subject believe that Woody’s mother set these fires. Huntington’s Disease is known to cause anxiety, depression, egocentrism, aggression, and compulsive behavior, and could have caused her to set the fires.
In 1947, Woody’s daughter Cathy died in a fire in his Coney Island apartment (on Mermaid Avenue). She was four years old. The fire was caused by faulty electric wiring.
Woody and Marjorie Guthrie, before their split in 1952.