Wilkes-Barre, PA Coal Mine Fire, Aug 1869

The Fire in the Wilkes-Barre Coal Mine. Correspondence of the Scranton Republican.

WILKES-BARRE, Penn., Monday, Aug. 30.

A visit to Pine Ridge to-day verified the telegram that the fire damp had taken fire from a blast. Fifty men and boys and sixteen mules, which were down the shaft at the time, were all taken out uninjured, although some of the men have since been quite sick from inhaling the gas and foul air. They saw not great cause for alarm in the shaft, and fought the fire for several hours in a vain endeavor to extinguish it. The blast which fired it was not in the coal, but in the rock next the coal, through which a tunnel was being cut, in the "second vein", or upper vein, as we believe it is called. The fire is still burning, and the steam and smoke that come from the mouth of the shaft are so hot that a person's hand cannot be held over it. A steam of water through a three-inch pipe is running into the shaft, brought from the pond which feeds Miner's Mill. The water usually pumped from the mine is also run in again at the mouth of the shaft. The most to fear is an explosion, which is likely to occur at any moment, and to act as a preventive carbonic acid gas is being made, which is to be forced into the shaft, after which, if it has the desired effect, that, of putting out the fire, the mouth of the shaft will be entirely closed, and the mine filled with water (more will be brought through a six-inch pipe) to cool off the racks and the name throughout. That an explosion may not do any damage to the breaker that may be avoided, the boards have been torn from two sides, the carriage taken out, &c. It is thought that it will be two weeks at least, before the shaft is again in working order.

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Sept 1869