Dunbar, PA Coal Mine Explosion, Mar 1886
THREE BLASTS OF FIRE DAMP.
ANOTHER DEADLY EXPLOSION IN A COAL MINE NEAR CONNELLSVILLE.
IMPRISONED IN THE SHAFT.
THE SHOCK SUFFICIENT TO FILL THE ENTRANCE WITH DEBRIS AND BLOCK THE WAY TO ESCAPE FROM A BURNING MINE -- TO THE RESCUE.
Connellsville, Pa., March 8. -- Shortly after noon today a series of explosions took place in the Uniondale mine at Dunbar, four miles from here, by which two men were killed and twelve others received injuries which will prove fatal in at least four cases. The cause of the explosion was fire damp. There were twenty-three men in the pit, nine of whom managed to escape uninjured. The first explosion occurred about 12:30 o'clock this afternoon. It was a terrific shock and was followed by two others in quick succession a few minutes later. The first explosions caused the death of two men and injured three. The rest ran toward the mouth of the pit, but before they reached it the explosions occurred. There was an upheaval of earth, coal dust and other debris, the lights were blown out, the dust blinded the men and the passageways were blocked up and cut off all escape. The pit was on fire and a horrible death awaited the imprisoned miners. None of them who had been working in the other entry managed to make their way out before the mouth of the pit was chucked up. The force of the explosion caused the men in the Morrell, Calvin and Wheeler, the adjoining mines, to drop their tools and rush panic stricken to the top, imagining that the pits were being lifted heavenward. The ground rolled up and quaked so that many fell down, and three or four in the Merrill mine, which connects with the Uniondale, were violently thrown against the walls and seriously injured. Everybody rushed toward the Uniondale mine.
COLUMBUS SHAY, of the Mahoning works, and JAMES HENDERSON, of the Calvin mine, headed a rescuing party and went to the works with picks and shovels to force an entrance to their ill-fated companions. In a few moments an opening was inside and several rushed forward to enter the mine, but when repelled by a volume of flame. It took several minutes for the smoke and fire to clear away, and the rescuers were compelled to wait. The cries of pain and moans of the injured were pitiable. They were lying in every direction buried under masses of debris. Several of them were horribly burned. Their sufferings were terrible. Twelve of them were found almost in a dying condition and two others were dead -- mangled almost into an unrecognizable mass. The names of those killed are JOHN WILLIAMS, a trackman, aged 45, married, and JOSEPH COPE, miner, aged 50, married.
Syracuse Daily Standard New York 1886-03-09