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Victor American Fuel Company
Victor American No. 3 Mine Fire and Explosion

Delagua, Las Animas County, Colorado
November 8, 1910
No. Killed - 79

Reports and Statements Related to the Disaster  (5.9 Mb)  PDF Format

Successful Rescue

18 miners were rescued from behind barricades 5 days and 21 hours following a fire in the Victor American No. 3 mine in Delagua, Colorado.  79 miners were killed in the disaster.  Source document  PDF Format

Rescuer Death

A member of the rescue crew who gave his breathing apparatus to one of the four men found behind a barricade stayed behind to wait for the party's return.  He was later found overcome in another part of the mine and died the next morning.

(From Federal Geological Survey report by J. C. Roberts, 1910, and State inspector’s report, 1910, pp. 154-160)

At about 1 p.m. a fire occurred on the inby side of a door in a crosscut between a main entry and aircourse.

At 2 p.m. when the fire was discovered all the officials went into the mine to fight the fire and a motor was sent outside to get hose.  At 2:30 p.m., before it could get back an explosion occurred.  About 121 men were in the mine: of these 28 came out through the connecting No. 2 mine, 4 were rescued alive from behind a canvas barricade by helmet men, and 14 men who also had bratticed themselves came out the following day.  Three men on the outside at the pit mouth were killed by flying rocks and timbers.

A member of the rescue crew who gave his breathing apparatus to one of the four men found behind the barricade stayed behind to wait for the party's return.  He was later found overcome in another part of the mine and died the next morning.

The area where the fire occurred was dry and dusty, and it was thought that collapse of the burning door and supports stirred up a cloud of dust, aided by the dust raised by the motor going out.

The fire ignited the dust cloud, and the explosion was propagated to the mouth of the slope with great violence.  The explosion spread through several entries but was limited by wet areas.

The fire was probably started by a discarded wick from the open lights.  The crosscut was used as a lunch and waiting room.  Gas had not been reported in the mine.

Scores Entombed in Delagua Mine
Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado
November 9, 1910

Trinidad, Nov. 8. -- For the second time within a month this coal-mining section has been made to suffer probably great loss of life through an explosion in a coal mine.  At 2:30 o'clock this afternoon, gas and dust, supposedly ignited by a fire within the No. 3 mine of the Victor American Fuel Company at Delagua, 20 miles northwest of here, exploded with terrific force, wrecking the interior of the mine and cutting off the escape of miners, variously estimated between 50 and 150 in number.

Three men, working just outside the entrance, were instantly killed by timber crushing their bodies.  These huge beams were hurled from the mine portal by the force of the explosion.  The main slope of the mine was caved in for a distance of several hundred feet.

Trinidad, Colo., Nov. 8. -- At midnight four men were taken out of the mine uninjured.  They were found in the remote entries more than a mile from the mouth of the mine.  Hope for the safety of the others was strengthened by the escape of these four.

Trinidad, Nov. 8. -- Between 60 and 80 men are entombed in mine No. 3 of the Victor American Fuel Company at Delagua as the result of the explosion about 3 o'clock this afternoon which wrecked the main entrance.

A large force of men is endeavoring to reach the imprisoned miners through mines Nos. 1 and 2.

Fifty men came out unharmed through mine No. 2 which is connected with the main mine No. 3 and according in reports to the mine offices they did not even know there had been an explosion in No. 2.  If this report is true the explosion which badly caved in the entrance to No. 3, did not extend far into the mine and it is hoped therefore that the men far within the workings are unharmed.

It was at first reported that the mine had caught fire and every available man in the Victor-American Company's employ was hurriedly notified to rush to No. 2 for rescue work.  A corps of physicians was also gathered at Trinidad and is now on the scene.  Only one wire and that controlled by the company runs in Delagua and beyond the fact that 50 men came out unhurt, no information has been given out as to the explosion.

It is known, however, that the normal working force of the three mines worked by the company is 275 men, of which a majority are employed in No. 3.  But on account of this being Election Day it is believed the force was much reduced.

One report is that 3 men were killed and four others injured at the mouth of the mine when the explosion occurred.  These men it is believed were engaged in rebuilding the tipple which was destroyed by fire not long ago.

Officials of the company left Denver for the mine this evening.  The new government rescue car which has been in Denver for the last few days was also rushed south this evening.

The known dead are:
  • Byrd Jennings
  • Martin Valentine
  • James Bennett
They were working about the entrance at repairs along with several others.  Several of the latter were painfully hurt but not fatally.

The injured are:
  • John Jennings, struck on head
  • Tom Jennings, bruised about body
  • Peter Martinelli, broken leg
  • Angelo Sylvester, fractured skull
Old miners in this section are confident that many of the entombed men if not all are still alive, and utmost efforts are being put forth to reach them.

Among the first to enter the mine was A. E. Thompson, experienced in rescue work, who, protected with an oxygen helmet, penetrated the entire length of the main entry, starting from the rear of No. 2.  He expressed the belief that the men were held prisoners in west entries Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 of crosscut 2, north, which would place them about 5,000 feet from the main portal.

Summoned from all camps in this section, rescuers arrived every minute until more than 100 were on the ground by 7 o'clock.  The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, which suffered the loss of nearly four score of its men and much property damage through the explosion in their Starkville mine last month, hurried its rescue car to the scene and also sent 75 of the most skillful underground workers in the company's employ.  The car contained oxygen helmets and other equipment for rescue work, and within a short time after its arrival rescue parties were working with zeal, inspired by the hope that they would be able to reach the entombed men while they were still alive.  It was confidently stated that unless insurmountable obstacles were encountered, such as great quantities of afterdamp or impenetrable blockades of wreckage, daylight would find the rescuers within reach of the men.

At midnight the appearance of four men from among the missing at the mouth of the mine caused great rejoicing and renewed efforts to reach the others inside.

At that hour excitement was at fever heat.  Women and children pressed forward with eyes strained in the direction of the main entranceway and in their anxiety to get details from rescuers handicapped their work.  A rope was drawn across the mine property several hundred feet from the entrance and armed guards stationed to keep away those who were not engaged in active rescue work.

That the explosion was due to dust and gas is not denied even by mine officials.  Early in the afternoon reports came to officials that a fire had broken out in the workings.  Superintendent William Lewis immediately ordered a fire fighting force consisting of Master Mechanic James Young and Pit Bosses John Fitzpatrick and Llewellyn Evans, and placing himself at the head entered the mine to combat the blaze.

Shortly afterward a rumbling of the earth followed by flames shooting from the mouth of the mine warned those outside of the explosion.  The report was heard at Hastings four miles away.  Familiar with the portent, miners at Hastings and other nearby camps began calling by telephone to ascertain the seat of the explosion.

Only one telegraph connects Delagua with the outside world and this is a company line.  It was kept busy answering queries and calling men to assist in the rescue.  Tonight what meager details reached this city came over this line and it was nearly midnight before anything like definite information could be had.

On the way to the scene tonight is the government rescue car, in charge of J. C. Roberts, a coal mining expert, who has worked in this camp.  Traveling on the same train are company officials from Denver.  The party was due to arrive here in the early hours of the morning.

List of Casualties:

Joe Acuto, 33, married
Jose Angiona, 35
S. Asaida, 34, married
Ramon Avalos, 40, married
Jose Bedalla, 16, single
M. Bedalla, 40, married
R. Bedalla, 18, single
Dave Bell, 22, married
James Bennett, 19, single
R. Bittagomez, 27, married
Blazo Bosovich, 26, single
M. Cabilla, 28, married
Annabille Castagna, 26, married
John Castagna, 42, married
Giovani Dalipicoli, 28, single
James Daugherty, 24, single
Jerry Davis, 16, single
Joe Dela, 16, single
Camilla Desantos, 44, married
Orazio Desantos, 44, married
Raffael Desantos, 45, married
Murzia Dominick, 45, married
Nick Dukovitch, 38, married
Felice Duronos, 45, married
Carlo Ecarde, 26, married
E. Espinosa, 40, married
S. Espinosa, 30, married
Ysa Espinosa, 31, married
Llewlyn Evans, 41, married
Willis Evans, 25, single
Dominick Fasinich
Marco Fasinich
Andy Giazar, 28, single
Eli Gioranvich, 27, single
Milan Gioranvich, 27, married
Matt Jardos, 30, married
E. J. Byrd Jennings, 17, single
W. C. Kilpatrick, 42, single
Frank Lenarsic, 31, single
M. Leon, 32, married
Giovani Leonardi, 31, married
William Lewis
Estaven Lopez, 23, married
Ignacio Lopez, 50, married
Juan Lopez, 25, married
V. Lopez, 30, single
P. Luna, 25
Jesus Marlana, 28, single
Lale Medjodovich, 47, married
Eph Mirales, 25, married
M. Nakamichi
K. Ogami, 30, single
A. Rodriguez, 27, married
F. Rodriguez, 32, married
E. Rosilios, 30, married
Louis Saballo, 20, single
James Sampson, 36, married
Anton Sarson, 33, married
Guieseppi Sassona, 25, single
A. Saw, 28, single
Paul Sikulic, 26, single
Jose Sintera, 28, married
Frank Smith, 31, married
L. Smith, 22, married
Martin Sviacrio, 33, single
Mike Terich
F. Teronia, 24, married
Viconti Towas, 28
Joe Valdez, 34, married
Perau Velanda, 45, married
Nick Vorotovich, 29, single
Till Woodword, 25, single
Jose Ybarra, 30, married
James Young, 46, married
Abunda Zabala, 28, married
Basallio Zabala, 25, single
Note: The final death count in this mine disaster was 79 men.

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