Scofield, UT Mine Disaster, May 1900 - The Inspector's Report

Tells how the mine was blown up, but fails to place the res­ponsibility. State Inspector says black powder caused the explo­sion.

June 3.—Without attaching blame to anyone specially, and, in fact, without fixing the responsibility in any manner for the terrible disaster at the Winter Quarters mine on May 1. when 199 coal miners lost their lives and seven others were injured, State Coal Mine Inspector Comer Thomas yesterday reported to Gover­nor Wells what he terms the nearest ascertainable cause of the explosion, the results and the warnings to be heeded in the future.

The Inspector's official report contains a list of the names of the dead victims and of the injured ones, reported to him by As­sistant Mine Superintendent H. G. Williams, together with an opinion from the Assistant Superintendent as to the cause of the explosion which brought such great sorrow to hundreds of fam­ilies in Utah.

Inspector Thomas ascribes the cause of the disaster to the accidental exploding of a keg of powder, the flame from which ignited the kegs of powder and the explosive coal dust. While he believes that the dust is not explosive under ordinary conditions, he has recommended that the Coal Company keep the dust wet. Since the reopening of the mine the Company has followed the Inspector's advice. In the Inspector's report his declaration is cited that no explosive coal gas exists in the Winter Quarters mine.

The official report of the State Inspector is as follows:
"At about 10:25 on the morning of May 1, 1900, an explosion occurred at the Winter Quarters coal mine, apparantly originat­ing in Number Four mine, by which, according to the latest count after the most careful checking, 199 men lost their lives and seven were injured. One man came out of Number Four mine unin­jured, and 103 came out of Number One uninjured. Most of the men in Number Four mine were killed by force and heat of the explosion. All the men in the first rise were suffocated by after-damp, and more than 100 men in Number One mine were suffoca­ted by the after-damp which swept down from Number Four mine.

"Number One mine and Number Four mine are connected, and by reason of such connection both mines suffered a loss by the one explosion.

"It seems, from all the evidence available, that some person (Isaac Macki) accidently ignited a keg of powder which caused the dust to rise, thus igniting the dust and carrying the flames from room to room from a point known as 'Pike's Peak,' and the im­mediate vicinity thereof. I find that nine kegs of powder were exploded near this place. Fourteen kegs of black powder ex­ploded in other parts of the mine, making a total of twenty-four kegs of black powder exploded, thus adding great force to the ex­plosion.