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St. Lawrence and Anaconda Mines
Anaconda Copper Mine Fire

Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana
November 23, 1889
No. Killed - 6

See also St. Lawrence Copper Mine Explosion, April 11, 1896
Accident Investigation Report  (1.4 Mb)  PDF Format

San Francisco, Nov 23. Fire caught this morning in the crosscut on the 500-foot level of the St. Lawrence mine and the draft is blowing it into the Anaconda workings.  Great quantities of smoke are issuing from the Anaconda shaft.  Patrick Murphy, Henry Page, Jerry Sullivan and Tim Keleber are known to be suffocated in the Anaconda.  A man could not live two minutes in any part of the mine.  The worst results are feared.

Butte, Montana, Nov. 23. A fire caught this morning in a cross-cut on the 500-foot level of the St. Lawrence mine and the miners who tried to drown out the flames were driven away by the heat and smoke.  As the fire occurred between the change of shifts, only a few men were in the mine.  There was a quantity of powder in the lower level and, to save the mine from disaster by explosion, several men volunteered to move it.  While engaged in doing this, four men named Keleber, Lyons, Murphy and Pane, were overcome by gas and smoke and perished.  Other men went down to save them but had to leave them having a narrow escape themselves.

The fire communicated to the Anaconda mine from the St. Lawrence and the former is burning.  It is timbered all the way from the 500-foot level up and the result of the burning of these timbers will be a cave-in of disastrous proportions.  The latest report is that there are nine men unaccounted for and, if in the mine, they are undoubtedly dead by this time.  The Anaconda mines constitute the greatest system of copper mines in the world and the capital is estimated at $20,000,000.

Butte, Montana, Nov. 24. There were no new developments today in the mine fire.  The shaft of the Anaconda is bulk-headed, likewise all the levels of the St. Lawrence.  It is believed the carbonic acid gas, which will necessarily be generated in the confined space, will eventually put the fire out.  Whether the fire has extended to the workings of the Anaconda or not, no one knows.

The number of lives lost is believed to be nine.  Two men are missing.

But for Superintendent Carroll's work with the co-operation of the miners, the whole vast interior with its immense underground ramifications would soon cave in.  As it is, no one can form the least conception of the extent of the damage, and it may be weeks before it is safe to open the mines again.  The company has other mines besides these, so the smelter will not have to be closed down.  The future intention of the company, however, is unknown.

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