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Irvona Coal and Coke Company
Irvona No. 3 Mine Explosion

Coalport, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania
August 15, 1928
No. Killed - 13

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Successful Rescue

A gas and dust explosion occurred in this mine.  There were 102 men working on the shaft, but some left the mine and only 14 were in the affected section when the explosion occurred.  Eight men were killed by violence, five were overcome by afterdamp and one man, Marina Coccia, who was overcome, was rescued and resuscitated after an undisclosed period.  The explosion was probably caused by an open-type mining machine, another of the long list of electrical ignitions in closed light mines.

Coal Mine Explosion Fatal to Thirteen
Sheboygan Press, Wisconsin
August 16, 1928

Coalport, Pa. -- The sole survivor of fourteen men known to have been trapped in the No. 3 mine of the Irvona Coal and Coke Company when an explosion occurred late Wednesday afternoon, today told the story of the blast while rescue workers from various districts explored the gas swept facings of the mine for bodies which might have been overlooked.

The survivor, Marina Coccia, of Coalport, owes his life more to luck than anything else, he having refused to follow a fellow miner whose body later was brought from the workings badly mangled and burned.

Coccia, one of 150 men in the mine at the time of the blast, was with the fourteen in the section where the blast occurred.  The other 136, in another section of the mine, escaped, their working place not having been visited by the force of the explosion.
"I was with W. H. Mays about 3:15 o'clock," Coccia said.  "We heard a dull thud and thought the dynamo had let loose.  We were thrown to the ground and smelled gas and felt a terrific heat.  Mays, his face ghastly, turned to me and said, "We'll die now.  No one but God can save us."

"We ran toward the tunnel exit but were forced back and reaching an entry Mays dashed to the left.  Something sent me to the right.  I escaped, poor Mays is dead."
The bodies of the thirteen victims were brought to the surface shortly after midnight.  Identifications were made in each instance.

Those killed were:
  • Steve Coable
  • Emery Spannar
  • Joe Fulare
  • C. W. Richards
  • Charles Kubleina, all of Madera
  • William Small
  • John Collins
  • W. H. Mays, of Coalport
  • Andy Apramovich
  • Tony Apramovich, his son, of Emmons
  • James Hunt
  • Louis Hunt, brothers, of Irvona
  • Herman Britton, Osceola Mills, R.F.D.
Officials of the company said it was a dust explosion but refused to advance a cause until a further investigation could be made.  This investigation was being carried on today by Deputy State Inspector of Mines Ira H. Thomas of Harrisburg.

Most of the bodies brought out were mangled and burned and with but two exceptions all were without clothing, denoting rescue workers said, the explosion was of terrific force.  The two bodies not mangled were evidently suffocation victims, physicians stated.

Had the explosion occurred 15 minutes later that it did, the mine would have been cleared of humans, officials of the company stated.

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