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Braznell Coal Company
Braznell Mine Explosion

Bentleyville, Washington County, Pennsylvania
November 15, 1905
No. Killed - 8

Pennsylvania Department of Mines Annual Report  (1.9 Mb)  PDF Format
See also: Braznell Mine Explosion, Dec. 23, 1899

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Explosion Kills Eight
Tyrone Daily Herald, Pennsylvania
November 16, 1905

Monongahela City, Pa., Nov. 16. -- Undoubtedly killed and probably blown to pieces, seven men are lying in the depths of the new shaft of the Braznell Coal Company, on the outskirts of Bentleyville, while another outside the mine is dead, as the result of a gas explosion.

The dead:
  • Ed Farragut, day boss
  • Ed Hastle, shift boss
  • F. H. Newman, machine runner
  • G. B. Wafoner, machine runner
  • Joe Stokes, colored
  • John McCatey
  • J. Shicola
  • J. Hoskins
The Braznell Coal Company has been sinking the new shaft since last summer.  Two weeks ago it was learned that a pocket of gas had formed in the bottom of the mine, which is 185 feet deep.  Orders were given for all the men to work with safety lamps, and this had been done.  Day Boss Farragut and his six men, without a thought of danger, stepped into the cage and descended into the mine.

They were building a concrete water ring or ditch 50 feet down the shaft in order to catch dripping water.  About five minutes after the men descended a terrific explosion occurred, which blew huge pieces of timber out of the mine like skyrockets as high as 150 feet into the air.  The tipple and all the mine rigging were torn down and debris scattered in heaps all around.  A shovel which lay at the top of the shaft was hurled with such violence that it sank four inches into a plank.

What must have befallen the seven men down in the shaft is terrible to contemplate.  It is believed that they were instantly killed and probably fell to the bottom of the shaft.  John McCatey, on the outside, was killed by the falling tipple, and others were seriously, though not fatally, hurt.

Mine Inspector Harry O. Loutein believes the explosion was caused by fire damp.  He believes the gas came upward and reached the miners' lamps just as it was at the explosive point.  But as it would have been practically impossible for safety lamps in working order to ignite the gas, it is a mystery what actually did ignite it.  There must have been some kind of open light used.  An ordinary miners' torch badly battered, was found near the mouth of the shaft, and this tends to show that someone disobeyed orders and carried a lighted torch into the shaft.

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