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Consumers' Coal Company
Harmar Mine Explosion

Harmarville, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
August 7, 1918
No. Killed - 8

USBM Final Investigation Report  PDF Format

(From the Bureau of Mines report, by Geo. S. McCaa)

The explosion occurred at 3:20 p.m., while 8 men were in the mine, 5 engaged in moving a pump near the shaft bottom, and 3 in placing guides and buntons in the shaft.  These 3 men were working about 40 feet below the collar and were blown to the surface, where they landed 30 or 40 feet from the shaft.

The hoisting equipment was wrecked.  Within a few minutes three men, who were alive, were pulled up the shaft by a rope that was let down to them.  These three died a few days later.  The other two bodies were recovered with the use of breathing apparatus.

The mine had just been dewatered, and although a fan had been installed it was not used prior to the explosion.  Electric incandescent lamps were being used.

Gas accumulated in the workings at the bottom of the 90-foot shaft and was ignited by an open light or match.  The mine was wet and dust was not ignited.  No examination for gas had been made.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I

Six Die in Coal Mine
New Castle News, Pennsylvania
August 8, 1918

Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug. 8. -- Efforts were being made today to reach two bodies of miners known to be under the debris at the bottom of the shaft of a mine that was being reclaimed by the Consumers' Coal Company at Harmarville.  Six men were killed and six others were injured by the explosion that wrecked the shaft.

So great was the force of the blast that parts of human bodies were blown from the bottom of the shaft to the surface, a distance of about 200 feet.

The dead:
  • James Washington
  • Verner Ware
  • James Gaffin, all negroes of New Kensington
  • Robert Smith, of Harmarville
  • Fred Miller, of Harmarville
  • John Zine, of Etna
Note: This disaster resulted in 8 fatalities.

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