Mine Safety Training Repository
united states mine rescue association
Mine Disasters in the United States

Tank's Poetry

Father Time
See more disasters
from this year
Calendar Image
Mine Disaster Calendar

Victor-American Fuel Company
Wadge Mine Explosion

Mt. Harris, Routt County, Colorado
January 27, 1942
No. Killed - 34

Bureau of Mines Investigation Report  PDF Format
From the Google News Archives:  External Link
(news links open in a separate window)

Successful Rescue

Four miners who were working nearer the entrance were rescued after an undisclosed period.  These men included Joe Gall, Bill Fickle, Elmer Everson and Mike Atansoff.

Mine Blast Snuff Out Lives of 34
Pulaski Southwest Times, Virginia
January 27, 1942

Mount Harris, Colo., (AP) -- Thirty-four miners perished in an explosion in the Victor American Fuel Company coal mine late last night.  Only four men escaped alive.

Blackdamp, deadly carbon dioxide gas, filled the shaft after the blast and impeded the work of rescue crews, unable to reach the victims for nearly six hours.

Bill Fickle, one of the men rescued, said the four heard a "dull thud from way back in the hole.  In a second we smelled smoke and ran for the air shaft."

Thirty volunteer workers set up an improvised morgue at Liberty Hall, the old opera house at Mount Harris, to receive the bodies after they are brought to the snow-covered surface.

Nearly every family in this small mining community 200 miles northwest of Denver had relatives employed in the mine.

Mine Superintendent Henry Johnson said the 34 men were trapped about 5,500 feet inside the tunnel of the mine, which slopes at an angle of about 10 degrees into Mount Harris.

The four who escaped were working nearer the entrance.  They heard the blast and fled.

Rescue crews fought the suffocating gas with huge blowers, forcing air into the mine and sucking the fumes out.

The miners' families rushed to the pit from their homes in the surrounding towns of Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs, but were advised to return to their homes.

Ambulances and hearses were called from all surrounding towns, and State Mine Inspector Thomas Allen left for the scene from Denver immediately.

The four who were rescued alive were Joe Gall, Bill Fickle, Elmer Everson and Mike Atansoff.

Victims of the Wadge Mine Explosion at Mt. Harris:

Antonio Adame, 42, Mt. Harris
Plutaco Adame, 45, Mt. Harris
Charles Baker, 37, Craig
Leo Beck, 43, Steamboat Springs
H. Truman Been, 37, Mt. Harris
Fred W. Blount, 50, Mt. Harris
Max Bustos, 65, Mr. Harris
Ralph Cable, 30, Hayden
Ross Cable, 35, Hayden
Raymond Cable, 38, Hayden
S. Pete Cretonne, 51, Mt. Harris
Don Ford, 25, Craig
Jack Gasperich, 42, Craig
Phillip Gonzalez, 50, Mt. Harris
Joe A. Goodrich, 40, Craig
Harvey Hardin, 46, Mt. Harris
H. H. Hartman, 47, Mt. Harris
Elmer Hindman, 40 Hayden
E. Ken Hockman, 32, Mt. Harris
Joe Martinek, 55, Mt. Harris
Tom McKnight, 54, Mt. Harris
Harrison G. Moore, 29, Mt. Harris
Robert Nance, 46, Mt. Harris
Harry Oliver, 55, Mt. Harris
Raymond Pope, 21, Craig
George Searles, 40, Mt. Harris
Joe Sertic, 50, Mt. Harris
Frank Sheperd, 33, Craig
Tony Skufca, 39, Mt. Harris
Timoth Trujillo, 26, Mt. Harris
Arthur Van Cleave, 34, Steamboat Springs
Adrian Vriezema, 21, Mt. Harris
Charles Vukoman, 49, Mt. Harris
George H. Ward, 44, Steamboat Springs

See more about these products