Kellogg, ID Fire Breaks Out In Silver Mine, May 1972
A Sunshine spokesman said a fresh air tube runs through all the mine shafts at about chest level. All miners carry a small tube-like wrench with which they can plug into the air line and breath directly through the tube, he said.
However, he said carbon monoxide generated by the fire would be so concentrated that a man could be killed if he took his mouth from the breathing tube.
A 40-man shift drawn from the more than 100 rescue workers faced heat, smoke and poor visibility in efforts to reach the trapped men.
Air Force planes will airlift equipment from Pennsylvania to aid in search and rescue operations, a spokesman at Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Wash., said.
A fleet of station wagons stood by the mine entrance to bring the bodies to funeral homes in Kellogg, a town of 7,000 in the mountainous northern Idaho panhandle 70 miles east of Spokane, Wash.
Montana Standard Butte Montana 1972-05-04
SUNSHINE TOLL 32, OTHERS MAY STILL LIVE.
Kellogg, Idaho (AP) -- Rescue workers found eight more bodies in the Sunshine Silver Mine Thursday, bringing the known death toll in Tuesday's flash fire to 32, a company official said.
The 80-man crew cleared smoke and gas from Shaft No. 10 to reach a two-story high underground room which houses the machinery for a vital hoist.
It was there that the additional victims were found, said MARVIN CHASE, general manager of western operations for Sunshine Mining Co.
The hoist room is at 3,100 feet and mine officials calculated that the remaining 50 missing miners are much deeper, at 4,600 or below.
The elevator shaft was not useable for the trip down because it still was not cleared of smoke and gas, they said.
CHASE earlier had expressed optimism that "some" of the miners were alive and could be saved. But he was cautious in his brief statement by saying only that "at least eight more bodies" had been discovered.
There was no immediate indication how long it would take to activate the hoist for the rescue journey.
A toll of 24 had been established until the rescue squad, fighting smoke and gas along the main shaft, managed to erect timber bulkheads all the way to the hoist room. Quick action saved 108 others shortly after the fire broke out.
Mine officials reported the smoke levels had dwindled so much that the fire, possible started by welding equipment or a short circuit, may have burned itself out.
They said consumption of air pumped down the mine could mean the miners were tapping it from the network of tubes.
Wives and families of the men clustered around the mine face, near exhaustion from an almost constant 48-hour vigil.
President NIXON messaged Kellogg Mayor ROGER FULTON his "deepest sympathy" and pledged full federal assistance.
A mine spokesman said the men would have access to water by tapping pipes with special tools they carry but would be without food. Inspectors gauges showed, however, that carbon monoxide in some parts of the mine are still at lethal levels.
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