Ballaire, OH Coal Mine Explosion, July 1944

LAST DESPERATE ATTEMPT IS MADE TO SAVE 64 COAL MINERS TRAPPED IN SHAFT IN OHIO.

Bellaire, O. -- AP -- In a last desperate attempt to reach 64 men entombed deep in a flaming mine, engineers brought up drills today to bore directly into a shaft where the miners were caught.
Whether any of them still lived was unknown. Most officials of the Powhatan mine, which erupted in flame late yesterday when a fall shorted a trolley line, expressed fear all were dead. The mine was sealed this morning in an effort to halt the fire.
But JOHN OWENS, president of District 50, United Mine Workers of America, demanded that a hole be bored directly to the tunnel where the men huddled and an attempt made to contact them. The men are about 350 feet below the surface.
GEORGE MITCHELL, chief engineer for Powhatan, said two high-speed drills were expected momentarily.
"We still have hope they may be alive," he said.
ADOLF PACIFICO, UMW vice president, said the men -- if alive -- could be given air, food and water through the hole, which would be about eight inches in diameter.
Fifteen hours after the fire started two miles from the shaft entrance, State Mine Inspector RICHARD McGEE announced there was no chance of the men escaping alive. Every outside entrance to the mine was ordered sealed.
Before the fire got out of control rescue workers had cut a new tunnel 500 feet through coal and rock in a vain effort to by-pass the flames and reach the men.
The fire broke out at 1 p.m. (E.W.T.) yesterday when a rock fall broke a high-voltage trolley and sizzling sparks ignited coal near the junction of the main passageway and a 3,600-foot dead-end corridor in which the victims were working.
The mine, the largest soft coal pit in Ohio, is operated by the Powhatan Mining Company, 15 miles south of here.
No word has been received from the men since the fire broke out.
Up until 4 a.m. today, when sealing of the mine was decided upon, MARCUS KERR, chief of the State Division of Mines, had expressed belief the men could be reached.
CHARLES E. YOUNG, assistant superintendent of the mine, had asserted that if the men could have barricaded themselves properly they could have held out five or six days.
Scores of relatives of the entombed men were waiting hopefully at the mine entrance when officials announced that the shaft must be sealed.
Closing the shaft will cut off the oxygen supply and the fire will burn itself out. It must remain sealed for several weeks before workers can return to remove the bodies of the victims.
In the mine when the fire started were 199 men. All but the 64, however, were in areas from which they could reach exits safely. The mine currently employed 850 men.
Immediately upon receiving the news, GEORGE EMERY, a 45-year-old foreman and father of four children, went into the pit to help the trapped men. Hours later he had not returned.
The flames spread to two other areas, but these were brought under control.
The burning section is near an area where two men perished in a fire two years ago. The area had been sealed until a few months ago.

Kingsport Times Tennessee 1944-07-06

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List Of Victims Of Mine Fire From:
The United Mine Workers Journal
Vol. LV No. 14
WILLIAM HAWLEY, Clarington.
EDWARD FLETCHER, Cameron.
ANDREW SICHL, Glencoe.
HENRY HAWLEY, Clarington.
CHARLES NELSON, Clarington.
DAIN BRAGG, Powhatan Point.
RAYMOND JACKSON, Powhatan Point.
HENRY JOHNSON, Bellaire.
MELVIN SMITH, Bellaire.
ROY JENNEWEIN, Powhatan Point.
DORSEY HARTLINE, Shadyside.
MYRON WRIGHT, Jacobsburg.
JAMES GIBSON, Glencoe.
DWIGHT METLOTT, Glencoe.
SHERMAN CORDERY, Powhatan Point.
CLINTON CORWIN, Powhatan Point.
WILSON BROWN, Powhatan Point.
TONY WACH, Shadyside.
DENVER LEE, Powhatan Point.
JOHN STEWART, Powhatan Point.
GLENN COOK, Clarington.
VIRGIL NEWKIRK, Powhatan Point.
HARRY McGILTON, Glencoe.
GEORGE WILSON, Powhatan Point.
DEWEY MUNAS, JR., Shadyside.
TIE P. MILLER, Bellaire.
JOHN JOHNSON, Neffs.
MIKE CHIMLEY, Jacobsburg.
HAMPTON MATTHEWS, Bellaire.
JAMES McCONAUGHEY, Powhatan Point.
JAMES JOBB, Bridgeport.
FRANK REICK, St. Clairsville.
JACOB BELLVILLE, Powhatan Point.
EDWARD DENNIS, Bellaire.
RALPH McGONAGLE, Powhatan Point.
AVREL VAUGHT, Powhatan Point.
WILSON McFADDEN, Bellaire.
JOHN WARSNICK, Powhatan Point.
MIKE HARVEY, Shadyside.
DALE JONES, Powhatan Point.
SAMUEL LARKIN, Powhatan Point.
ANDREW PUNKO, Powhatan Point.
JOHN BURDA, Bellaire.
PETE USKA, Powhatan Point.
ROBERT MUNAS, Powhatan Point.
WILLIAM ZEMMICK, Bellaire.
ALEX CISZEWSKI, Powhatan Point.
WILBERT KNEUFNER, Powhatan Point.
VIRGIL PRESTON, Glencoe.
LESTER MARLING, Bellaire.
ADAM GURSKY, Powhatan Point.
FLETCHER REIVES, Bellaire.
MATT SIMONETTI, Powhatan Point.
EARL R. GIBSON, Powhatan Point.
JOHN YABLONSKI, Glencoe.
FLOYD W. ABEREGG, Powhatan Point.
ODELL BROWN, Powhatan Point.
RUSSELL CALDWELL, Jacobsburg.
BOYD TAYLOR, Clarington.
NED VAN GOSSEN, Powhatan Point.
RALPH VILKOSKI, Powhatan Point.

Comments

Yoblansky, Yoblanski, Yablansk..... or Jablanska

His father was Stanislav Jablanska from Russia. A Czars guard prior to the Russian revolution. I grew up in Warnock, OH, grandson of Stanislava "Stella" Jablanska Jeffers, her brother. I was at her bed side when she passed. A beautiful woman, mother of 14 children.

The family was in hiding from the Soviets and the name change due to emigration was gratefully accepted. My father, as a boy, ran errands for John's mother, Josephine, who spoke not a word of English. They thought she was Polish. But in Glenoce, OH in the early 20th century, how would they know? I believe she spoke Russian.

another spelling correction

John Yablonski should be spelled Yoblonski. His name appears as Yablonski on the memorial, as well. He was my great grandfather.

miner accident july 1944

I have visited my Grandfather's grave. His name was John YOBLONSKI. It was spelled incorrectly on the monument and ought to be corrected. What a shame that the comany couldn't even report the names of the dead correctly. Joni Jo Yoblonski Woofter

Correction of spelling of last name

John Yablonski should read "John Yoblonski." He is my great-grandfather.

John's son, also named John, dropped out of high school, and eventually went to work in the very same mine to support his mother and sister.

one correction, Edward

one correction, Edward Fletcher should be EDWARD PLETCHER of Cameron Oh.

July 1944 Mine Disaster narrative

George Emery of Powhatan, Ohio was the miner who went into the mine to save his men. He died along with them, never coming out of the mine. He is noted for this in the narrative of the fire, but his name is omitted from the list of miners who died. Would someone with access to the online narrative please add his name to those who perished. George Emery was the father of my aunt, Mary Elizabeth Emery Trembly. Thank you so much.