Cherry, IL Coal Mine Disaster, Nov 1909
A vivid story of the disaster was told tonight by JOHN HANEY, one of the twenty-four men who were taken out alive.
HANEY and JAMES FLOOD, the latter of whom went back into the mine with the rescue party and perished, are believed to have been the last miners taken out of the mine alive.
HANEY declared he and FLOOD were the first to discover the fire. He said he was about to leave the mine about 2 p.m., and was walking through the main entry way from the escape shaft to the hoisting shaft when he discovered the flames. He summoned FLOOD who was nearby and together they fought for an hour with the fire in an effort to extinguish it.
"I don't know how the fire started," said HANEY. "I only know that I saw the flames and I realized that it was absolutely necessary that I put them out or several hundred miners would be roasted to death."
"The heat was horrible and both FLOOD and I were blackened but we stayed with the fire for an hour and did out best to put it out. Finally, though, the fire got away from us and when it crept up into the overhead timbering of the mine, I could see it was all off."
"FLOOD and I then ran from the place as fast as we could to the escaping shaft. We found that others were there before us and were being hoisted up. We waited in the intense heat for what seemed a life time to me, but finally the cage came down and we were lifted to the surface. I guess wer were the last men taken out alive, for when the cage went down the next time it came up empty."
"I don't know what became of the other poor devils down in the lowest level, but I don't see how any of them can ever be taken out alive. When the cage bringing us up was coming up, it was easy to see that it would not take very long before the fire would weaken the supports and the whole interior of the mine would cave in."
The Des Moines News Iowa 1909-11-14