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Bethlehem Mines Corporation
Barrackville No. 41 Mine Fire

Barrackville, Marion County, West Virginia
May 11, 1935
No. Killed - 6

USBM Final Investigation Report  PDF Format

See also: Barrackville No. 41 Mine Explosion, Mar. 17, 1925
  The Knoxville News-Sentinel, May 13, 1935  PDF Format

A fire occurred in the main hoisting shaft of this mine, severely burning 11 men, five of whom died in the hospital a few hours afterward, and the sixth victim died four days later.  The 13 men involved, together with the cager at the bottom of the manway shaft, were the only men in the mine at the time of the disaster.

The men were burned by a burst of hot gases which suddenly issued from the bottom of the main hoisting shaft when they were preparing to prevent the spread of the fire by means of hose and water from the shaft to the coal bed.

The six miners killed were:
  • Terry Welty, 40, a section boss
  • D. W. Jones, 28, assistant safety director
  • Harry West, 30, a timberman
  • Jay Wells, 50, pumper
  • L. A. Howell, 50, company inspector
  • H. C. Williams, 25, motorman

Mine Shaft Fire Kills Five Men
Salt Lake Tribune, Utah
May 13, 1935

Fairmont, W. Va., May 12 (AP) -- Five men were burned to death by steam and six others injured, one of the critically, in a spectacular mine shaft fire that shot flames 500 feet into the air at the Bethlehem Mines Corporation's No. 41 shaft at nearby Barrackville early today.

The mine was idle today, but one pumper was operating in the 300-foot shaft to free it of water.

The fire broke out about midnight, and a group of men were sent into the pit to battle the flames.

An electric fan was shut off, and the air current in the shaft forced the flames almost 500 feet into the air, investigators said. The group of men, working with hose to extinguish the flames, were burned by hot steam from the streams of water forced back upon them as the walls of the shaft collapsed.

L. A. Howell, 50, a mine inspector for the Bethlehem corporation and widely known in West Virginia for his mine safety work, was among those fatally burned. Howell came to this state from Wales, where the was decorated by the British government for his mine safety activities.

The other dead are:
  • Terry Welty, 40, a section boss
  • D. W. Jones, 28, assistant safety director
  • Harry West, 30, a timberman
  • Jay Wells, 50, pumper
All leave families. They died shortly after reaching a hospital. Howell lived for several hours after he was taken to the hospital.

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