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Mine Disasters in the United States


Susquehanna Coal Company
Susquehanna No. 8 Mine Explosion

Nanticoke, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
April 2, 1890
No. Killed 5



Five Men Killed in a Nanticoke Mine
Trenton Times, New Jersey
April 3, 1890

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., April 3. -- Gas exploded in slope No. 8 of the Susquehanna Coal Company at Nanticoke yesterday.  Four men were killed and five injured.

The names of the dead are:
  • James Adams, aged 35, leaves a wife and six children
  • John J. Griffith, aged 24, died after being removed, leaves a wife and child
  • James A. Williams, miner, aged 24, leaves a wife and one child
  • John Zubavage, aged 38, instantly killed
  • Morgan Price, aged 36, died last evening
The injured are:
  • Michael Barinski, slightly injured.
  • Joseph Barinski, seriously injured.
  • John Buddick, slightly injured.
  • George Elmy, slightly burned.
The explosion was in a branch of the main gangway in No. 6 lift of the colliery.  The chambers are all connected by narrow passages, called headings, which are driven for the purpose of ventilation.  When the fire boss examined those chambers in the morning he found gas in one of them in dangerous quantities.  When men came to work, George Elmy, the assistant fire boss, was sent in with a carpenter to clear out the gas.  He notified the men not to go into the chambers and made an examination.  He decided to have one of the headings closed and another opened, which would send a strong air current into the breast where the gas was.  He sent the carpenter, Griffith, up in the heading to do the work and told the others to stay with him in the gangway.

All obeyed except Adams and his laborer, Zubovage, who both went off into their chambers and began loading coal.  They and Griffith were the only men in the chambers, and one of the three must have fired the gas.

When the explosion occurred, the flames rushed out of the breasts and ran along the gangway, wrapping in their fiery embrace all who were there.  The shock blew down doors, brattices and timbers, and several cars that stood on the gangway were hurled from the track and broken.  All through the mine the concussion was heard, and from the mouth of the slope, 4,000 feet away, a cloud of dust was driven.

Instantly every man in the mine fled for the nearest exit, but inside Foreman Turner and General Inside Superintendent Reese got together a rescue party and started for the scene.  At the turning into the branch they met Elmy who was groping his way out.  Within three feet of Elmy, W. A. James was sitting when the explosion occurred.  Elmy escaped with slight burns, but James was instantly killed by a falling prop.  Griffith, who was found insensible, had inhaled the flames and was burned internally.  The body of James Adams was found just at the entrance to his chamber burned and crushed under a heap of fallen coal and rock.  The body of Laborer John Zubovage was found driven so tightly between an overset car and the roof of the gangway that the car had to be moved before he could be extricated.  A splinter of wood was driven through the eye into the brain.

The others were found in the gangway, where they had gathered waiting until the gas was cleared away.  The rescue party succeeded in reaching and extricating all of the men before they were forced to return by the after damp.  At this spot an explosion occurred one year ago and Eric C. Schaufuss, one of the leading mining engineers of this city, was killed, and also two companions.  The place was only reopened a few months ago.  Fire Boss George Olney is of the opinion that Griffith removed the cover from his safety lamp to light his pipe, and that the exposed flame caused the explosion.



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