Douglas Island, AK Mine Fire, Feb 1902


Great Treadwell Mines on Douglas Island, Alaska, Assailed by Fire, Heroic Efforts Saved Lives of Many Persons.

Seattle, Wash., Feb. - The great Treadwell mines on Douglas Island, were assailed by fire on Tuesday, February 11, and large loss of life was prevented by almost super human efforts of everybody who could reach the scene to stay the progress of the flames. The steamer Dirigo, reaching port this morning brought particulars of the fire.

The Alaskan American Compressor building was entirely destroyed, $38,000 worth of stamps and mill plates, and a 120-stamp mill, with the engine room were saved. More than 100 miners were in the lower workings, and in imminent danger of death. H. C. Hall, superintendent of the Mexican Compressor discovered flames issuing from one corner of the structure. The flames gained headway rapidly, and before even the hose in the compressor room could be brought into service the entire interior of the building was a mass of flames. From the compressor fire spread to the hoist and tramway, and before warning could be sent to the men down in the mines the shaft house was on fire and the lower end of the 130-stamp mill was burning fiercely.

The firemen confined their efforts to the mills adjacent to the compressor building, and though their clothing frequently caught fire and their hands and faces were badly blistered they finally got the fire under control after several buildings had been destroyed. In the meantime the flames in the shaft had been burning rapidly, and Swans Barquist, one of the men working on the 300-foot level, was the first to gain knowledge of the fire above. He shouted a warning to the miners on the 440-foor level.

After some delay an old gallery communicating between the new and old workings was discovered, and after a hard struggle in the smoky, gas laden levels, the men reached the bottom of the pit in safety.

In the meantime, with the help of additional fire apparatus from Douglas, the fire had been confined to the compressor building shaft, (illegible) house and a nearby mill building.

These were destroyed. When the Dirigo left for the south she was not certain that all the men in the mine had escaped, but the mine officials believe they did.

The Columbus Enquirer-Sun, Columbus, GA 19 Feb 1902