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Mine Disasters in the United States


Oregon Improvement Company
Qumklin Mine Fire

Franklin, King County, Washington
August 24, 1894
No. Killed - 37

Description:  Thirty-seven men lost their lives through suffocation by smoke from a mine fire when this incident occurred.  The fire originated in breast 62 of the north sixth level and the exact cause was not determined.  It was thought that the origin was spontaneous combustion caused by refuse and screenings in the bottom of the breast slacking and catching fire.  It is suggested that possibly the fire had been burning for some time, perhaps 2 or 3 days and from a smoldering blaze, it all at once became a burning furnace.


From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Thirty-Seven Miners Suffocated
The New York Times, New York, NY
August 24, 1894

Seattle, Wash., Aug. 24 -- Fire in the sixth level of the Oregon Improvement Company's coal mines at Franklin, thirty-four miles from this city, at 1 o'clock this afternoon imprisoned all the men working there.

Already thirty-seven dead bodies have been recovered from the mine, and it is known that many others are still in the fiery furnace.  The number is only a matter of conjecture.  It is probable that none will escape.

The first news of the tragedy was received in this city by Manager Smith of the mine company at 1:20 this afternoon in the shape of a telegram from the Mine Superintendent at Franklin.  This message stated that the mine was on fire and many miners, both white and black, were imprisoned.  Later a second telegram was received saying that thirty-seven dead bodies had been taken out and that it was supposed that there were more to be recovered.

Manager Smith sent out a special train bearing Superintendent Corey and a crew to assist in subduing the flames and rescuing the imprisoned men.

The officials in this city are reticent, and refuse to give out any information.  The fire, it is said, caught in breast No. 62, in the sixth level.  At 4:30 o'clock it was under control, and rescuers entered the mine.


An Explosion of Gas in a Washington Coal Mine.
Albuquerque Morning Democrat, Albuquerque, NM
August 25, 1894

Seattle, Wash., August 24 -- a terrific gas explosion occurred in the Franklin's mine at Franklin, near this city, this afternoon.  Sixty-two miners were imprisoned and 37 were killed.  The rest escaped alive.  The fire was soon extinguished and the work of taking out the bodies began.  All were recovered.

The deceased:
  • Joseph Bossi, 27
  • Isaac Clemmens, 58
  • Joseph Connell, 19
  • Joseph Dawson, 19
  • Phillip DeMari, 25
  • Chris Dunkers, 19
  • Andrew Engdahl, 33
  • John Evans, 19
  • Louis Farr, 30
  • Joseph Gibson, 26
  • John Grantilla, 19
  • Andrew Greer, 26
  • John Hall, 20
  • Peter Hay, 38
  • Evan Hughes, 48
  • John Irwin, 25
  • John E. Johns, 49
  • Edward Johnson, 23
  • A. J. Jones, 24
  • David D. Jones, 38
  • Evan D. Jones, 18
  • R. Jones, 30
  • W. P. Jones, 25
  • Frank Larson, 30
  • Edward Maxwell, 21
  • Robert McCaskey, 18
  • John Morris, 49
  • Jacob Olson, 27
  • Peter Perig, 19
  • John T. Pugh, 39
  • H. R. Roberts, 27
  • William Secor, 26
  • Joseph Stanridge, 16
  • Charles Stevens, 24
  • Rocco Tetti, 31
  • Frank Willis, 57
Source: Washington Mine Accidents - Fatalities  PDF Format

About half of the miners were Negroes, having been brought from the east four years ago to replace the strikers.  The mine is opened by the Oregon Improvement company and produces the best coal in the state of Washington.  The damage to the mine is not large.

At 12:45 this afternoon a fire was noticed by some of the drivers on the sixth north level and notice was given to the men inside who were working in different places, some in the breast about the level and others along the gangway.  As soon as it was known that there was a fire, many of the men in the gangways rushed back to notify the miners further in, while others rushed out and reached the main shaft.  It is certain that all the men in the breasts reached the gangway in safety.

In all about 70 men were at work in the sixth level, and north of that about 40 lingered at breast, six where the fire originated, and made an attempt to put out the fire.  The breast was burning fiercely, and before the miners knew it the fires had communicated to breasts 60 and 61 and smoke began to issue from breast 61 and in that immediate vicinity.

Several of the men who lingered at the burning breast 62 took warning and fled, but all who remained were overcome and asphyxiated.  It is evident that all the men had time to come out, for those at work in the further breast reached the shaft in safety, while those who were the nearest the shaft, and consequently more removed from danger remained.  They evidently believed they were in perfect safety at the fire, but while they lingered the smoke oozed out from some outside place further south and the bodies were all found south of breast 62.  They were all found within a space of 500 feet.



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