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Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company
Colliery No. 3 Shaft Fire

South Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
March 3, 1890
No. Killed - 8

State Mine Inspector's Narrative Report  (18.6 Mb)  PDF Format
PA Anthracite District 3 Fatalities  (4.2 Mb)  PDF Format

Additional Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company Disasters:


The mine was a gaseous mine and exceedingly so at some points.  At about 5:00 p.m. the footman and driver were going out towards the shaft with a trip of cars, when the footman stumbled and fell against the coal rib, where a large gas blower was issuing from the coal and was ignited from his open light, and caused several other blowers to ignite.

The section was thickly timbered and caught fire and a current of 80,000 cubic feet of air per minute was passing inward and conveyed the smoke into the workmen.  Several workmen attempted to extinguish the flame with a patented fire extinguisher without avail.  The fire spread to the timbers and coal, and eight men were suffocated by the smoke and fumes.

The mine was flooded with water before being re-opened several months later.

Eight Men Prisoners in the Pit
Daily Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
March 4, 1890

Wilkes-Barre, March 4. -- (AP) -- The fire in the South Wilkes-Barre mines is still burning.  At 5 o'clock a large portion of the roof of the tunnel caved in by reason of the burning away of the props.  The air pumps are worked to their utmost capacity to ventilate the Stanton mine which adjoins and connects with the South Wilkes-Barre shaft.  If the men reached the Stanton mine they may be alive, as the air there is good.  In order to reach it, however, they had to travel over a mile from the place where they were working, and it is feared that they were overtaken and suffocated by smoke.

Everything possible is being done by the mine officials to rescue the men.  One of the city fire engines was put to work early this morning and is now pouring two large streams of water into the burning mine.  The fire will cause a loss of over $100,000.

The Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company has been particularly unfortunate of late.  Only a month ago seven men lost their lives in the company's mines at Plymouth.  Five of the men entombed last night are married, and unless they are recovered alive they will leave five widows and twenty-four children.

A report comes from the rescuing party in the Stanton mine that the air there is excellent, and that there is a possibility that the men are safe in one of the chambers.

Up to shortly before noon there was no apparent possibility of rescue of the eight men entombed in the burning South Wilkes-Barre mine, or the recovery of the bodies until the mine has been flooded, which is now being done by means of several city fire engines.  This will probably require a week or more.

There is no change this afternoon in the situation at the burning shaft, and nothing has been heard from the exploring parties who are searching the Stanton workings, with a faint hope of finding the missing miners lost in the maze of the gangways.

The steam fire engines are still pouring a flood of water into the burning mine, but they must fill the workings to a height of 340 feet before reaching the fire.

The situation remains unchanged this evening.  One exploring party after another has descended the shaft only to be driven back by gas and smoke.  The company's officials are now busy flooding the mine.  Dense volumes of smoke are still ascending from the air shaft tonight, and the destruction in the interior of the mine will be enormous.

At 8 o'clock this evening the last exploring party reports that the fire is rapidly burning in the shaft, and has made a headway of over 700 feet from the starting point of last night.  All hope of finding the victims or any part of their bodies has been given up, as they have all probably been incinerated.

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