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Gold King Mine Fire

Gladstone, San Juan County, Colorado
June 4, 1908
No. Killed - 6

Rescuer Deaths

After extinguishing the blaze, five rescuers searching for 3 missing miners fell victim to toxic mine air.  In all, 6 were killed in the incident, including Victor Erickson, along with rescuers Peter McNini, Roy Coburn, Alf Johnson, A. W. Burns, and Gus Olson.  John Sunston and Otto Johnson were returned to the surface barely alive.

Thursday night's fire destroyed the engine house and also the shaft house.  The two buildings were near the doors of the main shaft and to prevent the spread of the flames and smoke to the workings of the mine, these doors were temporarily closed.  The men working on the night shift in the mine were informed of the conditions and instructed to withdraw.

Six men are dead, eight others in a dangerous condition from breathing foul air, and twenty-five to thirty more temporarily confined to their homes from weakness, due to contact with poisoned air in the Gold King mine, located at Gladstone (six miles from Silverton).  The dead: Victor Erickson, along with rescuers Peter McNini, Roy Coburn, Alf Johnson, A. W. Burns, Gus Olson.

Fire was discovered in the engine room of the mine and before it could be brought under control, had destroyed that building, as well as the shafthouse.  The men working the night shift in the mine were hurriedly notified of conditions on the surface and instructed to withdraw.  When the flames had been extinguished, the list was checked over and discovery was then made that three men were missing.  Immediate efforts to rescue them were made.

The first men to enter the mine returned in haste and informed those in waiting that the mine was filled with foul air.  Two rescue parties were formed and the men started into the mine in groups of five, by means of the electric elevator, which was still working.

The air generated by the motion of the elevator had cleared the atmosphere in the shaft so that little discomfort was experienced there.  Soon after a score or more of rescuers had entered the mine, some of those first in appeared at the foot of the elevator shaft, carrying the unconscious forms of rescuers who had succumbed to the noxious air.

Later, a party reached the surface, bringing the dead body of Victor Erickson and the almost lifeless bodies of John Sunston and Otto Johnson, the three men whose absence caused the necessity for rescue work.  The others who perished were of the rescue party previously named.

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