Decatur, IL Coal Mine Fire Suffocates Miners, Jan 1905

SIX SUFFOCATED BY FIRE IN DECATUR COAL MINE.

SMALL BLAZE IN OLD SHAFT STABLE MADE HARDEST STRUGGLE DECATUR FIREMEN EVER HAD -- PROPERTY LOSS INSIGNIFICANT.

SOME WHO DIED GAVE LIVES TO SAVE COMRADES -- PATHETIC SCENES ABOUT MOUTHS OF THE SHAFTS -- WORK OF RESCUE ENDED AT 10 TUESDAY MORNING.

Decatur, Illinois (AP) -- Fire in the stable of the old shaft of the Decatur Coal Company Monday evening caused the death by suffocation of six miners.
Their names are:
WILL FAGAN, aged 20, 1638 East Eldorado Street.
JOHN GOLLAN, aged 17, 914 North Charles Street.
WILLIAM GOLLAN, aged 50, 914 North Charles Street.
EMIL KNORR, aged 17, 1201 North Jordan Street.
AUGUST JAGUSCH, aged 51, 1516 East Sangamon Street.
CHARLES LASCHINSKI, aged 35, 1640 East Marietta Street.
About a hundred miners were working in the vicinity of the shaft. The fire was about 2,100 feet northeast of the shaft and only the men beyond that were in danger, about a dozen in all. Some who lost their lives could have escaped but they went further back to warn miners at work.
The fire was between the shaft and the entries in which the doomed men were working. The smoke filled these entries and suffocated the men.
The Decatur firemen were called to work on the fire just before 4 o'clock. It was the hardest work they ever had, but by working six or seven hours succeeded in putting out the fire at about 11 o'clock.
The fire damage will be small, probably not over $200 or $300. It was confined to the timberwork in the immediate vicinity of the stable. Much more damage will be done to the mine by the immense quantity of water that was used. This will soften up the earth supporting the timbers and there may be cave-ins for a few days. The extent of the damage in this way can not be known at once, but it probably will not be over $1,000.
The cause of the fire is not known. It is supposed that a miner's torch ignited the bark of one of the timbers in the stable roof. The blaze thus started may have smouldered for a few hours before being discovered. It is declared that the fire could have started in no other way, as there was but a small quantity of hay and straw in the stable and every precaution was taken to avoid fire.
Some of the men who escaped came out of the very jaws of death. Some of them were supposed to have been dead. Scenes most affecting took place when these men met their comrades at the bottom of the shaft and were greeted by their wives and scores of other relatives gathered at the top of the shaft.
One man, JOHN PRIDE, fell unconscious in the smoke early in the evening and lay until Tuesday morning. By that time the smoke had cleared so that he could crawl to the bottom of the shaft, and was taken out after he had been included in the list of dead.
All of the bodies of the dead miners were brought out. The first were taken out early Monday evening. The last were gotten out at about 10 o'clock Tuesday morning.
In the mine the work of cleaning up has already been begun. It is expected that operations can be resumed in a day or two. Officials of the company, miners, rescuers, and others were about the shaft and in the mine all night.
It was the first bad accident that has ever occurred in the Decatur mine and the night was the worst that the coal company officials ever went through.
Today all the miners are laying off, grieved families are preparing for funerals, and the whole city is talking about the disaster, the greatest in loss of life in the history of the city.

Daily Review Decatur Illinois 1905-01-17