Jonesville, AK Mine Explosion, Jan 1957


Anchorage, Jan. 19 (AP) -- Rescuers have recovered four bodies from a Jonesville mine where five men had been trapped. The fifth man has not been found but rescuers hold out no hope for him.
The man still missing is PHILIP V. DOHERTY.
None of the bodies have been brought to the surface yet. Rescuers are continuing their search for DOHERTY.
Workers said it appeared all the men were killed instantly by the concussion of the explosion yesterday morning. Officials have revised their theory that the men had set off a blast which caused the explosion.
A box of blasting powder and caps, near the center of the blast area, were found intact.
The dead miners were identified as:
JOHN E. FOWLER, 35, Palmer.
SAM KWANDAHL, 56, Palmer.
NICK UZELAC, Butte, Alaska, married and the father of two children.
GLEN V. VORE, 41, Sutton, Alaska.
The mid-morning blast trapped the miners approximately a thousand feet from the portals of independently operated mine 61 miles northeast of Anchorage.
A sixth member of the crew survived. MERRIT LONG had left themain shaft on a routine chore a few moments before the explosion. Today he helped direct the rescuers toward the place where he left his comrades.
The big blast, believed caused by an explosion of methane gas or coal dust in the tunnel, shook a 35-foot mass of rock, dirt and timber into the shaft 300 feet from the mine entrance. This was 700 feet above the point where the men were located.
An 80 man rescue crew was directed by Don Hill, manager of the Evan Jones Coal Co., which leases the mine to the independent operators. Hill had said lastnight that he felt the chances against the men's survival were "100,000 to one." Rescuers efforts were hampered by narrow working space and ventilation problems.
The disaster is the worst in an Evan Jones property since 17 men were killed in a blast at the Jonesville works in 1937.

Fairbanks Daily News Miner Alaska 1957-01-19