Dolomite, AL Mine Explosion, Nov 1922
Fear Mine Blast Toll Will Be 100
Dust Explosion In Alabama Colliery Traps 475- Rescue Workers Find 84 Bodies.
[By Associated Press.]
Birmingham, Ala., Nov. 23. - After rescue work throughout the night, of rescue work throughout last night, of- pany, [sic], owners of Dolomite mine number 3, where a dust mine explosion trapped 475 miners yesterday afternoon, announced yesterday afternoon, announced today that 84 bodies, had been taken from the mine, and they feared the total of dead might reach 100.
Approximately 50 men were reported injured by the blast. The other men escaped unharmed.
CARS RUN WILD.
According to company officials the explosion occurred simultaneously with the crash of three "skip" cars, which ran"wild" down the slope to the mine "yards,' approximately 1,100 feet from the entrance.
These cars, breaking cable, while they were being hauled up the slope to the entrance, crashed downward severing an electric circuit. This caused a spark and as the cars crashed into the "yards" which were trackage [sic] in the interior of the mine, where loaded coal cars were assembled before being hauled to the surface, the explosion occurred.
So great was the blast that the flames blazed upward all the way to the mine entrance, approximately 1,000 feet and continued on 300 feet further to the main tipple, setting this afire.
Approximately 50 men were working in the "yards" at the time and all of these men were either killed or injured.
Scenes of pathos about the mine mouth continued as relatives and families of miners waited news of their loved ones.
JOIN RESCUE WORKERS.
Many men, it was believes, had reached safety through the runaway connecting the mine with mine number two and had re-entered the workings to help in rescue work without communication with company officials or relatives.
Anxious relatives, however, kept watch all night refusing to quit their post until they learned something definite of their loved ones.
Joyous reunions occasionally relieved the sorrowful scenes. One small girl gave a cry of delight as a grimy miner emerged, his face smoke-blackened and his clothing bearing mute signs of his struggle to reach the surface in safety.
The girl threw herself into his arms and they hurried off. Another aged woman collapsed as she greeted two sons after hours of waiting. The boys, meeting rescuers in the mine on their way out and learning the workings were safe from poisonous gases, had turned back to help in the rescue, keeping their mother in suspense until they reached the surface exhausted.
STORY OF BRAVERY.
One rescuer told of an unidentified foreman who after the blast ordered 30 workers to remain with him and work on fixing up brattices with stones and canvas to shut off the dreaded after-damp gas. According to the rescue worker, one miner objected to remaining.
The rest stayed behind and completed the brattice of stones and canvas. When the fans were started and the air cleared, the foreman led his men out, the body of the man who refused to stick was found only a few feet away from the temporary brattice.
Tales of single miners who built walls across niches and hollows in the workings, stopping the chinks with parts of their own clothing and thus saving their lives from the gasses were numerous.
It will probably be late tonight before a complete official check of the dead and injured will be available, according to company officials.
INJURED MAY DIE.
Many of the more seriously injured may succumb, it was said at the hospital in Bessemer, where they were taken last night.
It was after midnight before the state militia could clear the district about the mine entrance of the cars and hundreds of curious watchers.
RESCUED FROM POCKET.
Fourteen men working in the mine about one mile from the entrance felt the force of the blast entered a pocked in the walls and were reached uninjured.
The force of the explosion was felt in Birmingham, nine miles distant, the concussion being distinctly heard in the South Highlands residence district.
Of the list of dead, 19 have been identified.
Decatur Review, Decatur, IL 23 Nov 1922