Hastings, CO Coal Dust Explosion Kills Scores, Apr 1917
HUNDRED AND TWENTY MEN PERISH IN MINE EXPLOSION.
COAL DUST EXPLODES AND SHUTS IN WORKERS IN MINE NEAR LUDLOW, COLO.
SHEET OF FLAME BELIEVED TO HAVE SWEPT THROUGH MINE AFTER EXPLOSION, PROBABLY KILLING MEN INSTANTLY; HUNDRED AND NINETEEN NAMES ON LIST OF MISSING ISSUED BY FUEL COMPANY; RESCUE SQUAD UNABLE TO MAKE HEADWAY.
Trinidad, Colo., April 27 -- There is no escape for the 120 or more men caught behind the fire in the Hastings mine of the Victor-American Fuel company near Ludlow and it is feared that all have perished. Rescue crews reported tonight that they cannot reach the entombed men because of the wreckage, the explosion having torn down ceilings and walls of the main slope.
Superintendent CAMERON tonight said he had little hope of saving any of the men who were in the mine when the explosion occurred. If the men are alive behind the fire, it is a miracle, he said.
The exact number of men caught in the mine still is undetermined. The company has compiled a list of the names of men known to be in the mine but it is asserted that the list is not complete.
Late tonight only meagre reports of the progress of the rescue work had been received here. The only means of communication between Trinidad and Hastings is a single telephone wire which has been crowded with official messages relating to the organization of the rescue work.
Hundred and Nineteen Missing.
A list containing 119 names of missing was given out by company officials tonight. It included DAVID REESE, mine inspector; DAVID WILLIAMS, pit boss; H. J. MILLARD, fire boss; twenty-five company men and 91 miners.
The company men follow:
JEFF JONES; PAUL VINCENZI; STEVE STUHLAE; JOE LZYBA; WILLIAM SHORT; BEN VALDEZ; FRANK MAURO; STEVE ANTONIUCCI; FELIPO HERRERA; E. H. ATWOOD; JIM LOCHART; JIM HOWARD; BRUNO NICOLUCCI; CHARLES NICOLUCCI; STEVE BADEL; GONZALES FLORES; PETENCH; FRANK PAPER; JOE TATOR; JOE HERNANDEZ; GEORGE MARKAS; and three unknown men.
Virtually all of the miners listed are foreigners.
The disaster is one of the greatest in the history of the souther Colorado mining district, and although the rescue work was unabated tonight, company officials hold out little or no hope that any of the men will be taken out alive. The few, if any, who escaped the flames that swept the interior of the mine, are believed to have been suffocated.
Helmet Parties Working Ahead.
The helmet parties are working 400 feet ahead of the rescue crew and tonight had penetrated to the "fifth north," one of the main partings, where the cars are gathered for the long drive to the surface.
One body, that of JIM LOCHART, a negro, has been discovered half buried under fallen rock.
The rescue parties are working constantly to reach the innermost recesses of the pit, but are hampered by lack of air and by falls that have torn down the brattices in important places and make ventilation almost impossible until the breaks have been repaired. All lumber and canvas for this repair work has been carried by the men on their backs for more than three-quarters of a mile.
At 11:30 o'clock tonight it was reported that five bodies had been found.
Rescuing crews, working continuously in short shifts, expect to reach the remaining men before daylight tomorrow. No hope is held out that any of them will be rescued alive.
The explosion which caused the disaster is said to have been caused by a sudden change of temperature this morning, resulting in spontaneous combustion of coal dust.
All of the bodies found were badly burned, it was said, indicating that a sheet of flame swept through the mine after the explosion, probably killing all of the men in the mine instantly.
The Hastings mine is situated three miles up Hastings canyon from Ludlow, which stands at the entrance to the Hastings and Berwind canyons, 20 miles from Trinidad. The main slope of the hastings mine is driven straight into the mountain, with only a slight pitch, to the present workings which are back some 3,600 feet from the entrance. The mine normally employs about 100 men to a shift and has a capacity of 1,000 tons a day.
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