Cherry, IL Coal Mine Disaster, Nov 1909
Company Makes Statement.
Chicago, Nov. 13. -- A statement declaring that of the 485 men who went into the Cherry coal mine this morning, 200 have been taken out alive, was issued tonight by the officials of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway company.
The statement denies that the fire started as the result of an explosion of mine dust, declaring that the accidental firing of a load of hay on the second level by a careless miner probably started it.
The Cherry mine is one of the newest and best equipped coal mines in the country, the statement asserts, the shaft having been sunk only four years. There are two levels, one 300 feet below the surface and one 550 feet below the surface. Most of the miners in the mine when the fire started were at work in the lower level.
The mine was well equipped with modern machinery, says the statement, and was well lighted throughout with electricity. In order to eliminate the chance of fire. The statement adds that the exhaust fan installed to draw foul air from the mine broke shortly after the fire started, rendering it necessary to close all of the shafts, excepting the hoisting shaft, in order to check the spread of the flames.
Pour Water In Mine.
Late tonight special trains carrying fire apparatus were sent to Cherry and the volunteer firemen began to pour water into the mine in the hope of checking the flames. The work was greatly hampered, however, by the fact that there is little water at Cherry and the engines had to carry it three miles from Ladd in tank cars. Several hundred men, some of them armed with buckets, were set to work dumping the water into the shaft.
President EARLING, of the railroad, and General Manager BUSH expressed the belief that some of the entombed men were still alive and that when the fire has been checked and the smoke cleared from the shafts, rescuers may be sent down safely and efforts made to communicate with any of the miners still surviving.
These hopes are not shared by the practical miners of Cherry who declare that even if the imprisoned men could get air, they could never survive the intense heat of the fire.
It was stated at Cherry tonight that the officials of the local miners union were formulating a demand for a complete investigation of the disaster and the circumstances surrounding it. Miners were heard to declare that if the exhaust fan had not broken at a critical moment, some of the men now entombed might have been taken out alive.