Scottdale, PA Frick Coke Co Mine Explosion, Jan 1891

Over a Hundred Killed

A Disastrous Explosion of Fire-Damp

Miners Suffocated in the Mammoth Shaft of the Frick Coke Company – Sixty Bodies Recovered and the Mine on Fire

Pittsburg, Penn. Jan. 27 – A special from Scottdale, Penn, says: By an explosion of fire-damp in the Mammoth shaft of the H. C. Frick Coke Company 110 sturdy miners were hurled into eternity and a number seriously injured.

The explosion occurred this morning shortly after 9 o’clock and it is supposed was the result of the ignition of a miner’s oil lamp. The after damp which followed the fire-damp explosion suffocated nearly every workman. A few men realizing the awful situation fell to the ground thereby preventing the gas from striking them. The persons not killed are in such a critical condition that their deaths are momentarily expected. Up to this writing sixty bodies have been recovered, all without a sign of life. The mine is on fire and it is feared that the rest of the bodies will be cremated.

The fire which broke out after the explosion was soon extinguished by the immense fans which were put in operation. The gas was about all driven from the pit, and the work of rescuing the entombed miners was commenced. General Manager Lynch of the H. C. Frick Coke Company is on the scene helping to devise means to recover the dead workmen. His assistance is invaluable, as he has had many years’ experience in mining operation. After sixty of the bodies had been taken out a new fire started, and this is still burning.

The Mammoth plant embraces 509 ovens, and is one of the largest plants in the coke region, but it is hard of [sic] access. It is situated near the United Works, where an explosion recently destroyed the entire shaft. The affair has cast a gloom over the entire coke region, and to-night hundreds of miners are flocking to the scene of the disaster offering assistance. The appalling loss of life in the Dunbar disaster is more than overshadowed by the destruction of life in this calamity. The news spread throughout the entire coke region with great rapidity, and everybody was awestricken. The coffins have already been ordered for eighty persons from Mount Pleasant undertakers, and it is understood that the Frick Company, the owners of the plant, will bear the expenses of the same. The only man who escaped from the fatal mine was Mine Boss Eaton.

Among those killed are John Beverage and James Boles, formerly of this place. The former resided here for many years and was held in high esteem by everybody. He was a road man in the shaft. Ex-Mine Inspector Keighly, the Superintendent of the fatal shaft, is nearly distracted. It is a singular fact that misfortune seems to have followed him, his experience in the Hill Farm disaster resulting in the tendering of his resignation as Mine Inspector.

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