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Mine Disasters in the United States


Davis Coal and Coke Company
Davis No. 42 Mine Explosion

Kempton, Garrett County, Maryland
February 29, 1916
No. Killed - 16

Official List of the Deceased  PDF Format

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Successful Rescue

Those not directly in range of the blast hurried to the main entries and started for the foot of the shaft in which the cages were still operating.  There they were met by rescue parties from the surface and quickly hoisted.  Other rescuers made their way into the mine and located other miners who had been unable to reach the main lines of communication.  These men were brought out after an undisclosed period.


(From the Maryland Mine Inspector's Annual Report, 1915-16, p. 28)

At 6.45 a.m. on the morning of February 29th, 1916, an explosion occurred at the Kempton Mine of the Davis Coal and Coke Company.  There were seventy-one men in the mine at the time of the explosion, and through the very efficient work of the management all were gotten out by 2:30 p.m. — 53 uninjured, 15 dead and 3 injured.  (Note: 16 miners are named on the "official" list above.)

The dead were not brought to the surface until about 6 p.m., when they were placed on a train and taken to Thomas and prepared for burial.

At 9 p.m. State Mine Inspector William Walters, David J. Morgan, Inspector for Maryland Division of Consolidation Coal Company, President Brophy and Superintendent Brown of the Piedmont and George’s Creek Coal Company, Superintendent Boyd of Blaine Mining Company, Superintendent Pattison of Pattison Coal Company, Superintendent Roberts of the Davis Coal and Coke Company, and Superintendent Gannon of the Oakmont Mining Company, entered the mine to make an investigation as to the cause of the explosion.  The explosion was local and principally confined to the outside end of the 1st Left Heading off Dip Heading, while the dry stone brattices in at room No. 15 and between 16 and 17 were blown down, yet all the men working inside of room No. 13 were gotten out alive.

All working places from room No. 3 to No. 11 were closely inspected and in no place were there any evidences of the point of origin except in room No. 11, which was in about 90 feet beyond crosscut and the last work done in here was firing a shot in the center of breast, the shot lying against roof and 12 inches over the solid, and from the accumulation of dust and coke on props, cars and ribs the line of force was right clearly defined, it being greatest near tops of rooms, due to having traveled through crosscuts.  All rooms from No. 10 to 3 were pillaring on the advance system, while room No. 11 was advancing and no crosscuts had been made to room No. 12.  Beside the rules of shooting had evidently been violated, for in the pocket of a coat sweater found in the gob of this room there were four No. 6 detonators and two pieces of fuse 12 inches long.  No explosives were found to know what had been used.

It is the ruling of the Company that safety powder be used and that same be fired with electric exploders and battery.

From the evidence gotten and in view of the fact that no trace of gas could be found, it was decided that the explosion was caused by a blown-out or windy shot that ignited the dust in room No. 11 off 1st Left Heading off Dip Heading.

The damage done to the mine was very slight and can be put in good shape in a short time.


71 Caught in Mine Disaster in Maryland Colliery
Tyrone Herald, Pennsylvania
March 2, 1916

Cumberland, Md., March 1. -- Seventy-one miners were caught by an explosion at the Kempton mine of the Davis Coal and Coke company, on a spur of the Western Maryland railway, about two miles from Fairfax, W. Va.

Twelve dead bodies have been recovered, five after several hours' search.  It was expected that one more body will be found, bringing the fatalities to thirteen.  All but three or four men known to have been in the mine are now accounted for.

The mine was not badly wrecked, according to mine officials.  The explosion, it was stated, was probably caused by dust.  The men had scarcely reached their working places when of the blast hurried to the location it occurred.  Those not directly in range of the blast hurried to the main entries and started for the foot of the shaft in which the cages were still operating.

There they were met by rescue parties from the surface and quickly hoisted.  Other rescuers made their way into the mine and soon located several bodies.  Later other miners who had been unable to reach the main lines of communication were found and brought out.

The mine is in Garrett County, Md., and is practically new, with all modern machinery.  It is a shaft mine, 430 feet deep with seven or eight miles of headings.  The machinery of the mine was not damaged and the cages working expedited the rescue of the imprisoned men.

The explosion occurred about 2000 feet from the shaft bottom.  Falls of coal from the explosion delayed the rescue work.  The mine is devoid of gas.

The identification of the men taken out has not yet been established.  Several are burned and badly maimed.  The mine has a capacity of about 2,000 tons a day.

The following is the list of killed:
  • Joe Komodina, Austrian, married, wife in old country
  • John Saepirl, Austrian, single
  • John Compenola, Italian, single
  • Tom Pokish, Austrian, married, wife in old country
  • Tony Menish, Austrian, single
  • Edward Caepiri, Austrian, single
  • Joe Prevish, Austrian, married, wife in old country
  • John Nicalish, Austrian, married, wife and three children at Kempton
  • Mike Mattish, Austrian, single
  • Joe Pictorti, Austrian, single
  • Jacob Zukolich or JACOB Buckner, Austrian, married, wife in old country
  • Tony Zerona, Austrian, married, wife in old country
  • George Mara, Austrian, single
  • Joe Lisie, Austrian, married, wife in old country
List of injured:
  • Rudolph Trondi, Austrian, married, badly burned
  • Waffel Ponnick, Austrian, single, slightly burned
Four others were slightly injured.



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