Mine Safety Training Repository
united states mine rescue association
Mine Disasters in the United States

Tank's Poetry

Father Time
See more disasters
from this year
Calendar Image
Mine Disaster Calendar

Jefferson and Clearfield Coal Company
Ernest No. 2 Mine Explosion

Ernest, Indiana County, Pennsylvania
February 5, 1910
No. Killed - 12

USBM Final Investigation Report  (1.3 Mb)  PDF Format

See also: Ernest No. 2 Mine Explosion, Feb. 11, 1916

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
(news links open in a separate window)

Successful Rescue

Andy Kragear was overcome by the gas arising from the explosion.  A rescue party using an oxygen helmet rescued and brought him to the surface about 8 hours after the explosion.  Shortly afterward he gained consciousness and was able to tell where he boarded.  He was the only man in the mine in the vicinity of the explosion that escaped.

Eleven Dead as Result of Explosion in Mine
Indiana County Gazette, Pennsylvania
February 9, 1910

Eleven men are dead as a result of the explosion in shaft No. 2 of the Jefferson and Clearfield Coal and Coke Company, at Ernest on Saturday morning.

The report circulated this morning that another man had died on Sunday proves to be without foundation.

When Coroner James S. Hammers returned to Indiana at 6:30 Saturday evening the extent of the explosion in the mine was known.

The explosion occurred at about 8:40 o'clock Saturday morning and by 6:00 o'clock that evening every man working in that part of the mine had been accounted for.

Eleven men lost their lives in the explosion and from after-damp, and all had been identified by their fellow workmen at 5:30 p.m.

The list of the dead:
  • Michael Harrington, aged 22, assistant mine foreman, unmarried
  • Paul Slinszky, aged 29, unmarried
  • Vladimer Hutow, aged 31, married
  • George Spenpak, aged 40, married
  • Massemini Rossi, aged 34, unmarried
  • John Bzanazolo, aged 25, unmarried
  • Alex Pesin, aged 23, married
  • Vincenzo Zattino, aged 24, married
  • Wassil Papus, aged 36, married
  • George Selak, aged 28, unmarried
  • Dominio Balarrino, aged 30, married
M. J. Harrington, familiarly known as "Mikey," was the only American killed.  He was well known, being a B. R. & P. telegraph operator, and had worked at different stations along its lines.  He was running a motor when the explosion occurred, and had been working in the mine only about six weeks.

Massemini Rossi has two brothers and a married sister residing at Ernest, one of whom, John, escaped from the ill-fated mine.  Another brother will arrive today or Tuesday from the old country.

Owing to the superstitious dread on the part of the foreigners, and their inability to speak English, the obtaining of particulars of these men's lives is very difficult.

Six other men were at work repairing track in the same opening but were a little nearer the mouth of the mine than the seat of the explosion and these, under the leadership of Sam Holt, were able to crawl to the outside.  These men found their way out by crawling on their hands and knees, feeling along the car track for guidance.  The men in this party were: Sam Holt; John Rossi, a brother of Massemini, one of the dead; Gaetrano Astorfo; Lella Tartome; Francesco Pella and Carlo Barsetto.

Andy Kragear, a miner working in Room 12 with John Bzaniszolo, was overcome by the gas arising from the explosion.  A rescue party using an oxygen helmet rescued and brought him to the surface about 4:30.  Shortly afterward he gained consciousness and was able to tell where he boarded.  He was the only man in the mine in the vicinity of the explosion that escaped.

A rescue party that entered the mine a little after the explosion, led by John Harrington, a mine boss, the father of "Mikey" Harrington who was killed, were all overcome by the after damp.  The members of this party were taken out by Watchman Mike Sullivan at 2:30 that afternoon.  Although they are in a serious condition it is thought all will recover.  Besides Harrington, this party consisted of Frank Sweeney and Alexander Turner, all English speaking men.

The bodies of the victims were brought to the surface on mine cars at 4:30 o'clock and were taken at once to the machine shop nearby.  They were at once identified and one body was taken in charge by relatives at 4:30 o'clock.  Another body was removed at 5 o'clock and three more were taken at 5:20.

The body of Michael Harrington was removed at 8:30 Saturday night by undertaker McCracken, of Creekside.  It is understood that his body will be taken to DuBois for interment.  All of the other victims will be buried in the Catholic cemetery here today and tomorrow.

The remains of the other five victims, who were all young men who boarded at various boarding houses, were not claimed.  These bodies were then washed and put in good condition by other employees of the Company and they will be buried by the county.

Although many of the victims were killed outright by the explosion, several were choked by the after damp.  Most of the bodies were burned somewhat and others were cut by the explosion.  None, however, were so badly mangled that recognition was difficult.

The fact that this heading was an old one accounts for the small number of men working in it.  This was a slope opening and connected with five or six other openings so that this disaster did not present the difficulties to the rescuers that a shaft mine would have caused.

An oxygen helmet proved very useful in getting out some of the victims.  Other appliances were rushed from Punxsutawney and nearby towns but were not used by the rescuers.

This explosion was not as destructive to life as was the Wehrum catastrophe of last spring in which 27 men were killed.

Four mine inspectors and two trained nurses arrive in Ernest Saturday evening on a special train.  It is not known as yet what their opinions concerning the cause of the disaster are.

Coroner Hammers thinks that it will be at least a week before an inquest can be held.  He is of the opinion that the men died of suffocation but will not say so definitely.

Dr. Hammers will make a most thorough examination and will be assisted by state and district mine inspectors.

The mine was considered non-gaseous and open lamps were used.  Dr. Hammers wants time to thoroughly investigate the details of the disaster before empanelling his jury.

This is the second disaster at Ernest, which is a comparatively new mining town.  About three years ago John Mulholland was fatally and Supt.  Reed seriously burned by an explosion of gas.

See more about these products