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Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company
Kent No. 2 Mine Explosion

McIntyre, Indiana County, Pennsylvania
June 30, 1941
No. Killed - 7

USBM Final Investigation Report  (5.4 Mb)  PDF Format
Successful Rescue

Of 34 miners trapped in the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company's Kent No. 2 mine at McIntyre, Pennsylvania, as the result of an explosion underground, 28 were rescued alive after an undisclosed period.  All of the bodies were recovered.  Of the 28 men brought out alive, 17 were burned badly enough to be taken to the hospital and several of these were reported in a critical condition.  The 34 men were working in Section Three of the mine, when the blast, described as a dust explosion, rocked the entire region.  Last New Year's Eve, five miners were entombed in the same mine for 18 hours but escaped when workmen tunneled through to them.  Source document PDF Format

14 are Trapped in McIntyre Mine
June 30, 1941

Twenty men were more or less seriously burned and otherwise injured in a dust explosion in Kent Mine No. 2 mine of the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company at McIntyre, about 10:30 a. m. today.  It is feared some of them will die.

Officials of the company estimated that at least 14 others were trapped about three miles from the opening and their fate has not yet been learned, but many are feared to be dead.

14 of the 20 burned and injured were brought to the Indiana Hospital.  The others were treated at the mine mouth by a corps of physicians and nurses.

First aid crews from the McIntyre community have entered the mine and similar crews have been summoned from Lucerne and Ernest.  The First Aid crew of the Indiana Fire Department is also on the scene.  Ambulances from the Robinson, Streams, Bell and Leydic Funeral Homes were rushed to McIntyre following word of the accident.

The explosion occurred at 7 right heading, three north.  The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined.  Andy Toth, a motorman, was a mile away when the explosion occurred and was almost blown off his feet by the blast of air.

The fourteen burned and injured and workers in other parts of the mine had to walk out in total darkness.  R. E. Penfield, chief clerk of the production department, said the men in the mine had not been determined but none was reported dead.

Penfield said that blast shook loose very little debris and that none of the passageways was blocked.  He added: The fans are working and air is flowing through the mine.¯

The U. S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh dispatched a rescue truck and seven men to the scene.

The blast occurred near the area where a cave-in trapped five men last New Year's Eve.  They were rescued 18 hours later after they had written farewell notes to their families.  Source document External Link  See Successful Mine Rescues.

Fourteen Hospitalized
Indiana Evening Gazette, Pennsylvania
June 30, 1941

Heath S. Clark, president of the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company, announced the following names of those who have been hospitalized here:
  • David Craig
  • Clifford Geyer
  • John Shorzak
  • Peter Sgro
  • Tony Sgro
  • Len Surra
  • Bruno Lorenzi
  • James Maice
  • Stanley Gryesak
  • Mickey Bercic
  • Alex Sherb
  • Leon Stuchell
  • Joe Babich

McIntyre Mine Death Toll Now 7
Indiana Evening Gazette, Pennsylvania
July 1, 1941

The toll of victims in Indiana County's worst mining disaster in over a quarter of a century mounted to seven with the death of John Chorzak, 21, of Iselin, in the Indiana Hospital at 9:35 this morning.  Six bodies were removed from the ill-fated mine shaft near McIntyre late yesterday afternoon.

Sixteen others who were working in the heading of the Kent No. 2 mine of the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company when it was rocked by an explosion yesterday morning are still hospitalized, while eighteen who were removed from the shaft were permitted to return to their homes after minor treatment.  George Clipper, 26, of Clune, who is suffering from severe burns of the hands and face, is the only one who remains in a serious condition today.

Rescue crews worked feverishly for nearly eight hours yesterday to remove the 41 men trapped in the large heading.  The explosion, which shook the mine at 9:15 (EDT) is believed to have been caused by gas, but mine inspectors and county authorities were pressing an investigation today to determine the cause of the blast.

The dead are:
  • John Chorzak, 21
  • Elmer McGee
  • George Stockdale
  • Joseph Bedzyk, 31
  • Albert Dech, 20
  • William Clark, 52
  • Andy Yanes, 54
In addition to the 17 miners who have been hospitalized, three company officials who were assisting in the rescue work were confined overnight as a precautionary measure.  They are Charles Ramsell, 44, of McIntyre, foreman of the mine, who inhaled smoke; Lawrence J. Redding, of Indiana, superintendent of the McIntyre mine, and Fred Vinton, director of personnel.

Other hospital patients are:
  • David Craig, 54
  • George Babich, 19
  • Clifford Geyer, 29
  • Tony Sgro, 52
  • Peter Sgro, 20
  • Len Surra, 19
  • Bruno Lorenzi, 23
  • James Maice, 29
  • Stanley Gryesak, 29
  • Leland Stuchell, 24
  • Mickey Bercic, 20
  • Thomas Maydok, 46
  • Alex Sherbon, 34
  • John Levier, 38
  • Albert Wysotski, 33
Although preliminary reports indicated that coal dust had brought the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company its first major disaster since 1913, President Heath Clark stated today that the investigation would probably reveal gas as the cause of the blast which shook the ill-fated heading.  Doctors, treating the injured men, were unable to find any traces of coke in their skins, as is usually the case in coal dust explosions.

The six men whose bodies were removed yesterday were reported to have been working in two rooms which were hit by the full force of the blast.  Rescuers said only one body showed any signs of being hurled in the air by the explosion.

Three of the bodies were very seriously burned, but they were all identifiable by relatives.  Blackdamp, the inevitable aftermath of an explosion, may have caused the death of several of the men, but Dr. Edward L. Fleming, Indiana county coroner, indicated today that he will await the findings of the mine inspectors and the U. S. Bureau of Mines officials before scheduling an inquest.

Over three hundred men were working in the Kent No. 2 mine when the blast occurred, but all digging was suspended as a precautionary measure and the men removed while rescue work was being carried on.  The impact of the explosion could be felt over a mile from the heading, and one worker, Joe Primak, 24, described it as sounding like a box full of dynamite going off under my ear.

Friends and relatives gathered near the tipple shortly after the blast to watch the return of the men, while ambulances and rescue crews from surrounding communities arrived quickly on the scene.  A group of volunteer women workers from McIntyre and the Indiana Red Cross Chapter served coffee and refreshments to the returning miners and rescue workers throughout the afternoon.

Over twenty men had been removed from the shaft, which was three miles from the entrance, before the first body was found late in the afternoon.  In an effort to minimize hysteria in the anxious crowd waiting near the man-load officials in charge of the rescue work ordered the bodies to be removed at the drift-mouth a mile away and transferred from there to the ambulances which brought them to local morgues.

The crews has little difficulty in finding the location of the explosion, but the site of the heading, which is known as Section 3, North 7 right, and the blackdamp slowed down the rescue work.  No cave-ins resulted from the blast, but the explosion blew out the brattices, the barriers which block off developed entries and the main group of rescue workers were forced to reconstruct them as they progressed.

Smaller squads of experienced mine rescue workers, equipped with gasmasks, penetrated the dead air¯ section of the heading to bring out the bodies of the six victims.

Company officials said three of those who were found dead in the mine were employed as conveyor movers and were probably shoveling coal on the conveyor when the blast let go.  Miners do not load cars in the rooms in that mine, but at the main headings after the coal has been conveyed over 1,000 feet.

In addition to the large rescue organization of the R. & P. from its mines in Aultman, Coal Run, Ernest, Iselin and Yatesboro, a truck and corps of engineers, headed by J. J. Forbes, supervising engineer, was rushed to the scene from Pittsburgh.  Two crews were sent by the Industrial Collieries Corporation from Johnstown, while others arrived from the Pennsylvania Electric Company at Seward, the Pennsylvania Coal & Coke Company at Barnesboro and Hastings, and the Northwest Mining Exchange at Seward.

The first aid truck of the Indiana Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene.  A battery of eight State Motor Policemen, the Indiana County Sheriff and his deputies together with about a dozen officers from Indiana County boroughs kept order and held the large crowds back while the rescue work was going on.

The 18 men in the heading who were uninjured by the blast or sent to their homes after receiving minor treatment were listed by the company as: Steve Cyga, Peter Fedorick, Theodore Fedorick, Frank Fulton, John Gentile, Charles Hilliard, Francis Kato, Daryl Laurre, Joe Pavolka, Salvatore Virone, Joe Kovalic, Joe Marazik, Joe Louisa, Ren Douisa, Charles Lucas, Walter Swalga, Dave Getty, and Todd Getty.

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