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Mine Disasters in the United States


Temple Coal and Iron Company
Mt. Lookout Colliery Explosion

Wyoming, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
May 12, 1908
No. Killed – 12

Mount Lookout Mine Map  (680 Kb)  PDF Format
(From the 1908 Pennsylvania Anthracite Dept. of Mines Annual Report)

The following is a brief description of the Mount Lookout accident where twelve men lost their lives and eleven others were more or less seriously injured by an explosion of gas, in the South Gangway of the Red Ash vein, on the afternoon of May 12, between three and four o'clock.  My investigation shortly after the accident shows as follows: Joe Coslick, miner No. 610, working on the night shift in the South Gangway in the Red Ash vein, quit work at eleven o'clock on the night of May 11, and apparently left a feeder of gas burning in his working place.  After the night shift the men were all out of the mines, the fan was stopped for twenty minutes for minor repairs.

The pump runner, who is stationed near the foot of the Red Ash slope, informed the night fire boss that an explosion had occurred at about three o'clock.  The fire boss upon examination found a small fire in the face of the gangway and reported it to the mine foreman, Bernard Holleran, at six-thirty on the morning of the 12th.

The mine foreman immediately made an examination of the place, together with the night fire boss, and found a small fire in the face of the South Gangway of the Red Ash vein.  The mine foreman immediately organized a corps of workmen and, as he supposed, extinguished the fire.  He reported the fact to the district superintendent, George W. Steele, and his assistant, Gilbert Jones, who in company with the mine foreman made an examination of the place.

They could not find any fire, but about thirty minutes after the examination a slight explosion occurred, followed by another still slighter explosion about thirty minutes later.  Coming to the conclusion that they must have overlooked a small fire in the affected territory, they immediately organized a corps to establish the air current, which had been interfered with by these slight explosions, to remove any accumulated gas in order to enable them to reach the working face and make further investigations.  About 12 o'clock the gas had been removed so that the men were enabled to reach the working face, and, while they did not find any fire, they found some ashes and considerable heat where the fire had been.

They organized a bucket brigade to carry water from a slight dip, about eighty feet from the working face, to pour on the coal that was still hot.  After continuing this work for about three hours, they felt thoroughly satisfied that no further fire remained, and a large gang of men was put to work in relays building doors, block cross-cuts and opening up the cross-cut close to the face which had merely been holed through.

About three-thirty another explosion occurred that killed seven men, burned fifteen and injured one.  Of the seven men killed two were burned, and five were either killed by the concussion or died from the effects of the after-damp.  Of the fifteen men five were burned seriously, but the others were only slightly injured.

The deceased:
  • Harry Lark, 24
  • John Walsh, 39
  • Charles Babcock, 54
  • Alex Petrasgouskie, 20
  • Charles Petrouskie, 27
  • Joseph Eothsis, 28
  • Alex Opineck, 30
  • John Komer, 30
  • Frank Kommer, 49
  • Patrick O’Boyle, 32
  • William Costello, 39


Seven Men Meet Death Fighting Blaze in Mine
Tyrone Daily Herald
May 14, 1908

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., May 13. -- The historic town of Wyoming was thrown into a state of excitement when word came from the Mt. Lookout colliery, operated by the Temple Coal and Iron Company, that an explosion of gas had occurred and that many miners and laborers had been killed.

Thousands of people flocked to the mine and the state constabulary, who have their barracks near there, had all they could do to keep the crowd away from the mouth of the shaft.

From what could be learned at the mine during the excitement, was that a miner named John Kosmith left a small "gas feeder" burn in the extreme end of a gangway, 1800 feet away from the shaft and 600 feet under the ground, all of Monday night, which during the night or the early morning set fire to the timbers and the coal.  When the fire boss started into the mine to make his rounds he discovered a fire.  He at once reported it, and with three men he tried to subdue the flames, but they met with gas while trying to do so.

Shortly after a slight explosion took place burning the four men, but not seriously injuring them.  They then came out of the mine and the inside foreman summoned a gang of men together and went into the mine to put out the fire.

They then let air in from another gangway to allow the gas to escape and while doing so a second explosion took place, and seven men, all miners and laborers, were instantly killed and five others burned upon the hands and face.

The deceased:
  • Pascal Smith
  • Frank Smith
  • Michael McNulty
  • Oscar Smallcomb
  • George Metcalf
  • Lewis Pataskay
  • Joseph Yancanden
The injured:
  • John Welsh
  • William Cofstolo
  • Henry Learch
  • John Pataskay
  • Charles Babcock
All those injured live in the neighborhood of the colliery.  All were burned upon face and hands.

A rescue party was formed and they were at once sent into the mine to get the men out.  The dead men were all identified by the foreman.  Several of the rescue party were overcome by gas and had to be taken from the mine in a semi-conscious condition.



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