West Frankfort, IL Mine Explosion, Aug 1947



West Frankfort, Ill. (AP) -- Three men were killed and two others slightly injured Thursday night in a mine explosion which brought hundreds of people to the shaft fearing it was a third major disaster in southern Illinois within five months.
For more than two hours, a crowd of about 2,000 milled around the property in the belief that many of the night crew of about 100 men had been killed or trapped.
Not until about 11 o'clock when many of the workers came to the surface unaware of the blast, was the worst of the shock and two-hour suspense dispelled.
The dead members of a drilling crew, are CHARLES H. CLARK, WALTER CLEMENTS, JR., and GEORGE L. FILKINS, all of West Frankfort. The injured who were treated at the mine for minor burns and sent home are MIKE STINKIEWICZ and W. A. BLAIR, electricians of nearby Benton.
Harold L. Walker, state superintendent of mines and minerals, said the blast "probably was a local gas explosion." One man, working in a neighboring entryway, said he saw a cloud of smoke and dust in the area but that he did not know there had been an explosion until he reached the surface after the night's work.
Mine company spokesmen said only the five men were in the blast area, and that all other workmen had been accounted for and were not injured.
The accident occurred betrween 8:30 and 9 p.m. mine officials said, in the New Orient mine of the Chicago, Wilmington and Franklin Coal Co. It is the largest one-shaft mine in the world, employing more than 1,100 men who produce about 10,000 tons a day. The mine is about a mile north of here.
In two recent southern Illinois disasters, 111 men were killed in an explosion at a Centralia mine March 25 and on July 24 an explosion in a mine across town here from the New Orient killed 27 men.
West Frankfort is in Franklin County, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis.
A state department of mines report, dated June 5 and signed by James R. Wilson, of West Frankfort, said the mine ventilation was "good" and that haulage ways were clear.
A U.S. bureau of mines report, said the mine ventilation was "good" and that haulage ways were clear.
A U.S. bureau of mines report, dated July 10-23 and signed by H. C. Brumbaugh, said there were "indications" of a gaseous condition in the mine and recommended "all faces where electrical equipment operates be inspected frequently for methane."
Company officials were not available for comment.

Iowa City Press-Citizen 1947-08-15