Moberly, MO Esry Mine Fire, Aug 1936

Blaze Endangers Four Men Trapped In Missouri Mine

Victims Blasting Wood Supports to Prevent Flames Reaching Them

Moberly, Mo., Aug. 18 (UP).-Firemen and miners worked under man-killing conditions Tuesday night to extinguish a fire which worked steadily downward in the Essery Mine toward the level upon which four men and a mule were trapped.

Sounds of dynamiting from below the surface led the rescue workers to believe the four humans were blasting the wood supports of the mine to prevent the flames from reaching them.

Temperatures at 105 degrees at the surface were made further unbearable by the heat from the flames which raged through the wooden superstructure of the mine.

Two miners escaped shortly after the first flareup of flames in a structure housing the fan which aerated the mine shafts.

The fire apparently started in a wooden shack housing a huge fan which ventilated the mine. This fan was believed to have become overheated and to have ignited the wooden superstructure.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 19 Aug 1936


Continue Hunt For 4 Miners

Rescue Crews Threaten to Defy Officials and Force Way Into Mine.

Moberly, Mo., Aug. 20.-(UP)-Their patience frayed by two days of fruitless rescue efforts, a grim company of coal miners today threatened to defy officials and force their way down a water-logged, gas-filled air shaft in an attempt to reach four fellow workers, entombed in a collapsed mine tunnel.

Arnold Griffith, chief state mine inspector at the main shaft, posted a special guard at the abandoned air duct to keep friends of the entombed men from entering.

Attempts to reach the imprisoned miners through the air shaft were abandoned yesterday by Arnold, who said the narrow vent was filled with deadly black damp. Four-men rescue crews, working in relays, concentrated their work on the debris-locked shaft.

Little Hope Is Held

The four miners were entombed Tuesday afternoon when fire swept the mine super-structure, causing the vertical main shaft to crumble.

At the bottom of that shaft, the rescue crews toiled. The four were caught in one of two horizontal tunnels leading away from the base of the debris-choked shaft. Unless they barricaded themselves in some recess, little hope was held that they escaped the deadly gas fumes now filling the mine.

Working through the night in 20-minute relays, two men slowly reduced the pile, tossing burned timber and dirt into a 1,000 pound capacity bucket while a third man watched for any signs of the workers being overcome. Fresh air was blown down constantly to the three cramped in a space seven feet wide.

If the 15-foot high cage ay the bottom of the shaft was intact, the men had only about 25 feet to go. If it was only a mass of debris, then the barrier exceeded 40 feet.

“Some time today,” was the earliest promise Arnold Griffith, chief state mine inspector, could make.