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Northwestern Improvement Company
Northwestern Mine Explosion

Ravensdale, King County, Washington
November 16, 1915
No. Killed - 31

USBM Final Investigation Report  PDF Format

See also: Northwestern Mine Asphyxiation, Jan. 29, 1909
  Northwestern Mine Explosion and Fire, Oct. 3, 1909

Successful Rescue

A rescue party under the superintendent at once commenced recovery and repair of the auxiliary slope and rescued 4 men; 3 were unconscious and were given artificial respiration, but 1 died.

(From Bureau of Mines Report, by Edwin Higgins)

About 1:30 p.m. an explosion killed all but 3 of the 34 men in the mine.  Recovery work by exploring crews in breathing apparatus and bratticemen without apparatus completed recovery of the area and removal of the bodies in 6 days.

Progress was slow and difflcult in the narrow entries and chutes.  The coal bed dips 30 to 60.  Dense smoke and dust issued from the main and auxiliary slopes, but the headframes were not damaged.

A rescue party under the superintendent at once commenced recovery and repair of the auxiliary slope and rescued 4 men; 3 were unconscious and were given artificial respiration, but 1 died.

Apparatus men soon arrived and were organized into crews.  Gas had been found previously at the top of No. 40, No. 41, No. 42, and No. 43 chutes, although none was reported on this day.  Ignition of a body of gas in No. 41 chute by a match was the conclusion of the investigators.

Closed lights were used above the entries, but most of the men in these chutes carried matches and smoking materials.  Dust carried the explosion over the mine.  Sprinkling on the entries did not control the dry dust.

Mine Explodes Killing 31 Men; 3 Are Injured
Waterloo Evening Courier, Iowa
November 17, 1915

Seattle, Wash., Nov. 17. -- Rescue parties which had been laboring in ninety minute shifts all night were still at work early today endeavoring to recover the bodies of twenty-five men buried under tons of debris in the third level of the Northwestern Improvement Company's coal mine at Ravensdale, thirty-five miles southeast of here.  An explosion in the mine yesterday killed thirty-one men and injured three others.

The bodies of six, including Foreman P. J. Kane, were recovered last night, and the rescuers had hopes of reaching two more within a few hours, but the others were so far back in the wreckage-choked level, 1,500 feet underground, that it was feared it would take many hours to reach them.

Reports circulated last night that fire in the mine was delaying the rescuers later were declared to be untrue.  The report gained credence because a large cloud of smoke poured out of the main slope when the explosion occurred and from the fact that the bodies had been seared by fire.  This was explained, however, as due to the sheet of flame which swept thru the mine when the explosion occurred.  The cause of the explosion is still undetermined, although it is supposed coal dust was ignited by a "windy" shot.  Rescuers, who were led by Superintendent W. D. Scott, were unable to reach the third level by the main slope because of the wreckage and had to break their way thru an auxiliary slope.

The force of the explosion tore down timbers and supports all thru the mine and the rescuers had to build new supports as they cleared away the wreckage.

Expert rescue teams from the United States Bureau of Mines station in Seattle and from coal camps on both slopes of the Cascade mountains were rushed to Ravensdale to assist in the rescue work.

After entering the third level, where Foreman Kane's body was found, the oxygen helmet men announced that there was no doubt that all still in the mine were dead, and the workers devoted themselves to clearing away the debris so they could get to the bodies.

Listing of the casualties:
  • John Arno, miner
  • Joe Baldacci, miner
  • John B. Castagnia, laborer
  • Charles B. Davis, pumpman
  • P. J. Dowd, shot firer
  • John Errington, lumberman
  • Joe Galob, miner
  • Noel Goodman, laborer
  • Thomas J. Kane, mine foreman
  • Joseph Krajnoc, motorman
  • Charles Martini, cager
  • Thomas Mashiokoski, laborer
  • Romeo Madaine, miner
  • John Miller, miner
  • Louis Minaglia, laborer
  • Edris Morgan, track layer
  • Angelo Morris, miner
  • Jack Muncie, haulage boss
  • Dominick Novarra, President of Local Miner's Union
  • Emil Pawallek, miner
  • Louis Pazziol, miner
  • M. Pennachi, laborer
  • John Pesta, laborer
  • Howard Salter, laborer
  • Thomas Speck, motorman
  • Jack Storey, miner
  • Lorenzo Tasamantino, cager
  • John Testa, laborer
  • L. Thibaut, miner
  • Frank Wegher, miner
  • Joe Zgonc, miner
Approximately $124,000, it is said, will be paid from the state industrial insurance fund to the families in the disaster yesterday.  The law gives $4,000 for each man, provided he is married, and a lesser amount for single men.  Only seven of the thirty-one who lost their lives were single.

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