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Mine Disasters in the United States

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Joseph H. Reilly, owner
Reilly No. 1 Mine Explosion

Spangler, Cambria County, Pennsylvania
November 6, 1922
No. Killed - 79

Successful Rescue

33 miners were taken out alive after an undisclosed period, but three succumbed to their injuries.  Of the remaining 30 rescued, all were at the Spangler Hospital and the attending physicians, who were doing everything in their power for them, said all would recover.

(From Bureau of Mines Report, by G. S. Rice, J. W. Paul, and L. D. Tracy)

At 7:20 a.m. on Monday, 112 men had begun work when the explosion occurred, blowing out some stoppings and overcasts and also the side and end walls of the fan housing.

Help was called from other mines and from the Bureau of Mines at Pittsburgh.  The fan housing was patched and the fan started, making the concrete-lined, 112-foot, main shaft an intake.  Recovery workers without apparatus encountered a live man making his way out to fresh air and brought him and four others out.

All were badly affected by afterdamp, as were 18 of the rescuers.  Apparatus crews were then admitted, and 22 other survivors were rescued.  Five other men made their way out unassisted.  Seventy-six bodies were found, and 3 of the rescued men died.

Gas that had accumulated in one or more rooms through open doors and deficient ventilation was ignited by the miners' open lights.

Fireboss examinations were neglected and incomplete.  The mine had been rated gaseous in 1818, but at the instance of the new operators it was rated as nongaseous although a fireboss was employed and men were burned by gas on at least 4 occasions.  The low volatile dust of this road helped to spread the explosion but without great force or flame.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I

75 Lose Their Lives in Spangler Mine Blast
The Clearfield Progress, Pennsylvania
November 7, 1922

Spangler, Pa., November 7. -- Reilly Shaft No. 1, the scene of the greatest mine disaster in the annals of Central Pennsylvania's mining history, has at last given up its death toll due to yesterday morning's terrific gas explosion.  Rescuers at noon today had explored almost the entire mine workings, extending for two and one-half to three miles under the Cambria County hills.

According to their records they have discovered and removed from the mine 107 unfortunate miners.  Of this number 33 were taken out alive, but three succumbed to their injuries, which makes the total of dead 75.  Of the remaining 30 rescued, all are at the Spangler Hospital and the attending physicians, who are doing everything in their power for them, say all will recover.

The explosion which wrecked the shaft was responsible for the major portion of the deaths, as was demonstrated by the condition of the bodies when found.  Many of the men had their eyes blown out, while all were bleeding from the mouth and ears.  Those closest to the scene of the blast had their faces badly mashed or broken.

The rescuers have explored all but one small section of the mine which is filled with water.  The water is being rapidly pumped out and, while it is feared there may be more bodies found, it is hoped that none were working in this shaft, as it had always been wet.

Of the 78 dead all have been recognized but six, whose features were torn and scared by the exploding gas that identification was simply out of the question, and they will be buried in a common grave.

Fire Boss Flanigan, who inspected the mine one hour before the explosion and reported it safe, is among the dead.  The temporary morgue where the bodies were located was visited this morning by the sorrowing relatives of the dead men, who hope as they would recognize the loved one they would take up and remove the body to their home.

The dead are nearly all young men between the ages of 18 and 25 years, and are largely Americans or English speaking.

President John Brophy of District No. 2 went to Spangler from District headquarters in Clearfield last evening and spent several hours at the scene.  He knew many of the men personally and hauled coal in his early youth from Fire Boss Pat Flanigan, who was literally blown to pieces by the explosion.  Mr. Brophy says this is the worst affair of its kind in District No. 2 proper in its history, although the Rolling Mill mine disaster at Johnstown several years ago took the lives of more than one hundred miners.  The treasury of District No. 2 will be hit by the awful disaster to the extent of approximately $15,000, as membership in the U.M.W. of A. carries with it a death benefit of $200.

Spangler, Pa., Nov. 7. -- The bodies of 59 miners who lost their lives in the explosion that wrecked Reilly Shaft No. 1 here yesterday, have been brought to the surface at noon today.  The rescuers have penetrated at least two and one-half miles from the bottom of the shaft.  Forty-three of the bodies, which were placed in an improvised morgue in the United Mine Workers hall here, have been identified.

Thirty miners who had been rescued and rushed to the Spangler hospital suffering from gas poisoning, will probably recover.

Listing of the dead miners:

Pat Flanagan, fire boss
Bernard Tanzy
Stanton Gray
Warren Gray
Vincent Miller
Mike Dunchak
Steve Sinczak
Frank Wysconski
Ollie Bearer
Arthur McKivigan
Steve Manac
Tony Canteloup
Mike Washko
James Clawson
Mike Plutko
Felix Pallone
Guy Leslie
Mike Gurinko
Martin McAvey
John Pello
Mike Zuranko
Joe Fritz
Jacob Hurey
Hugh Bearer
A. E. Vaughn
William Leslie
Edward Ostrander
Rudy Shopa
John Anderson
William Rodgers
Hayden Kelly
John Logue
James Decker
Joe Abrams
Clyde McGaughey
John McGaughey
John Manac
John Jones
Alex Kuzmishin
Merril Berkey
John Shopa
James Elliott
Tony Polvis
John Grecca
George Kuchmer, Jr.
George Kuchmer, Sr.
Tony Villella
Joe Saltsgiver
Charlie Smolko
Vallie Smolko
John Griffin
Mike Griffin
Roy Wetherson
Charles Aiella
John Ycovack
Bart Ycovack
George Baker
Peter Voytko
Thomas Brooks
Michael Sinczak
Aftan Sinczak
Ralph Canteloup
Gentile Caribardi
Ambrose Shopa
Sam Derricott
Joe Dolan
Harry Hutchko
George Kelly
Richard Leek
Joe Potonic
John Potonic
Frank Mendochino
John Popovich
John Novorka
John Pononik
Paul Owens
Joe Plutko
Andy Plutko
Oscar Peterson

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