Belle Ellen, AL Mine Fire, Sept 1897

Belle Ellen Mine Fire 1897

FIRE IN AN ALABAMA MINE

Flames Break Out in the Main Slope and Five Men Cut Off.

WERE WORKING ON A LOWER LEVEL

Efforts Made to Quench the Flames Useless, and the Imprisoned Victims Given Up for Dead - Big Flour Mills Burned.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 20 - About two hours after the men went to work in mine No. 2 of the Bessemer Land and Improvement company's coal mine at Belle Ellen, Bibb county, this morning, fire was discovered far down in the main slope. About 109 men are employed in the mine and at once an alarm was given. A panic followed among the workers and rescue parties were at once formed to relieve the miners. More than fifty were gotten out from the various entrances without harm. Others were overcome by smoke and fell by the wayside. The brave searchers found and dragged them out while those waiting at the entrance restored life to their unconscious friends.

A scene of wild excitement prevailed at the mine's mouth, and woman and children were screaming and shouting for help and a fire brigade was at work endeavoring to overcome the flames. Five men who were working about the slope beyond where the fire originated could not be reached and it is regarded as certain that they are dead.

It is possible that two or three others may be in the mines, but these five are known to be lost. There was no possibility of their escape and the fire brigade battled with the flames all day in a vain attempt to reach the entombed me, but at nightfall the fire was still burning fiercely and efforts were abandoned and the men were given up for dead.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 21 Sept 1897

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CAUGHT IN A MINE FIRE

Terrible Disaster at Belle Ellen, Alabama.

FIVE MEN KNOWN TO BE DEAD.

It Is Possible That Two or Three Others may Be in the Fiery Furnace - Wild Rush For Life of the Hundred Men Employed in the Mine.

BIRMINGHAM, Sept. 21. - About two hours after the men went to work in mine No. 3 of the Bessemer Land and Improvement company at Belle Ellen, near Blocton, Bibb county, yesterday, fire was discovered far down in the main slope. About a hundred men are employed in the mine, and an alarm was at once given. A panic followed among the workers and in the little town of Belle Ellen. Hundreds of men, women and children gathered at the main entrance of the smoking mine, while rescue parties were formed to relieve the miners. More than 50 were gotten out from the various entrances without harm. Others were overcome by smoke and fell in the tunnels. These the searchers found and dragged out. A scene of wildest excitement prevailed at the mine's mouth. Women and children were screaming and shouting for help and a fire brigade was at work endeavoring to overcome the flames. Five men who were working about the slope between where the fire originated could not be reached, and it is regarded as certain that they are dead. The missing are HERMAN KRAMER and HUBBARD FOLEY, white, and HENRY REEVES, FRANK JAMES and WILLIAM FAIRFAX, colored.

It is possible that two or three others may be in the mine, but these five are known to be lost. There was no possibility of their escaping, and the fire brigade battled with the flames all day in a vain attempt to reach the entombed men, but at nightfall the fire was still burning fiercely and efforts were abandoned and the men were given up for dead. The fire is though to have originated from an overhead steampipe, which ignited gas in the mine. A careful check is being made of the list of miners in the mine where the fire broke out, to ascertain, if possible, if the death list will exceed five. So far it is not positively known that any others are missing.

The News, Frederick, MD 21 Sept 1897