Renton, PA Mine Explosion, Jul 1920

EXPLOSION BURIES NINE MINERS ALIVE NEAR PITTSBURGH

Rescuers Work to Save Entombed Men 500 Feet Below Surface

Special to The Inquirer.
PITTSBURGH, Pa., July 19.- Nine miners are entombed following an explosion in the mine of the Union Collieries Company at Renton, eighteen miles from here.

It is hoped the men are still alive, and every effort is being made to reach them before they die a slow death of suffocation, more than five hundred feet below the surface.

The missing include three fire bosses, three pumpers and three laborers.

As soon as the cage of the mine was repaired late today, a mine rescue worker, carrying a canary bird, was lowered in the shaft a distance of [illegible] more than five hundred feet. He was pulled up in ten minutes, and as the bird showed no ill effects from the trip, mebers [sic] of the rescue crew said the mine was free from gas and fire. They explained that the bird was used as a gas and fire test.

Mike Thomas, a lampman who was on duty when the explosion occurred, said today that shortly after the nine men went into the mine on a tour of inspection, he received a telephone call from John Lutman, fire boss, who was with the party at the mine. Lutman, he said, asked that he turn on the power, but, he added, when the fire boss told him there was no danger, he complied with the request. A few moments later the explosion occurred Thomas said.

A second accident was narrowly averted late this afternoon when rescue teams were repairing the shaft for the work of the exploration. The improvised cage on which they were working tipped and the men barely [illegible] saved themselves from dropping to the foot of the shaft.

The chance that the entombed miners still live lies in the possibility that they found a place of safety somewhere in the workings before the blast reached them, according to mining experts.

Following the explosion a rush of men, women and children was made to the mine. Many distraught and waiting with fear and agony left their beds and rushed to the scene of the explosion without donning their clothing.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 Jul 1920