Johnstown, PA Coal Mine Gas Explosion, May 1915

HORRIBLE DISASTER AT JOHNSTOWN.

EIGHT PERSONS KILLED IN EXPLOSION IN SMOKELESS COAL MINE, MONDAY AFTERNOON.

WAS CAUSED BY GAS.

Johnstown, Pa. -- Eight men were killed and six others were overcome in an effort to reach the bodies, in the worst mining accident in years at Mine No. 1 of the Smokeless Coal Co., at Johnstown, Monday afternoon. The disaster occurred at 3:30 o'clock when a terrific explosion blew out the brattices, stopped the fans and drove a cloud of gases out through the mine entrance.
The men who were in the mine at the time and who are dead were:
EDWARD EVANS, and his two sons, DAVID EVANS and JAMES EVANS.
CHARLES F. MAY.
CHARLES E. STEPLIN.
VALENTINE CHESHAEL.
JOHN HOFFMAN.
JACOB WOLF.
Immediately after the accident Charles Schiffenhauser, the way boss, rushed to the fan house and within five minutes had started the fans again. His work did not clear the mine, however, owing to the destruction of the brattices.
It is believed the explosion was due to gas. Weigh boss Schiffhauser stated that the explosion was so terrific that if any vehicle had been passing on the street at the time it would have been blown to atoms.
Wives and mothers of the men in the mine heard the explosion and came running to the mine mouth, where they were restrained with difficulty from entering the slope. Some of them became hysterical and their screams added to the horror of the scene, as the rescuers struggled in and out of the black afterdamp that rolled from the mine mouth. The explosion occurred in the right heading of Slope No. 2, Mine No. 1, of the Valley Smokeless Coal Co.
Last evening the efforts of the rescuers were directed chiefly to saving their own comrades, who were overcome by the gases. Superintendent C. H. CROCKER, of the Cambria mines, was one of the victims. He was brought to the surface by General Superintendent H. J. Meehan and Frank Boyd, who volunteered to enter the mine without helmets. GOMER PHILLIPS and THOMAS BURGESS were still in the mine last evening and were said to be in a serious condition. PHILLIPS died later in the evening. JOHN BRODERICK, JOHN FREAR, and W. M. DYER, all members of the rescue party, were taken to the Cambria Hospital, where their condition rapidly improved and it is believed that they could be sent to their homes before morning.

Indiana Evening Gazette Pennsylvania 1915-05-25