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Glen Alden Coal Company
Wanamie Colliery Mine Fire

Wanamie, Pennsylvania
October 6, 1940
No. Killed - 2

Rescuer Deaths

On October 6, 1940, Reese Phillips and Gray Lacey lost their lives while wearing Gibbs oxygen breathing apparatus after entering a sealed fire area at the Wanamie Colliery of the Glen Alden Coal Co., Wanamie, Pennsylvania.

Phillips, Lacey, and another man, all wearing oxygen breathing apparatus, entered the sealed area to place a line of hose so that a stream of water could be directed onto a fire.  On the way into the fire Phillips complained of trouble with his apparatus, and it was decided to return to the fresh-air base.

After starting back Phillips collapsed, whereupon Lacey became panic-stricken and rushed toward the fresh-air base.  The third man followed Lacey and tried to persuade him to return and assist Phillips to safety, but his panic increased, and he rushed past the opening leading to the outside of the sealed area, continuing along an old airway that had numerous falls and caves in it.

After traveling for some distance along this old airway he climbed on top of a fall and crawled along it until he became wedged tight.  When a rescue party arrived to recover his body, it was necessary to cut the apparatus straps before the body could be extracted.

The survivor stated that after trying to calm Lacey, he returned to Phillips and attempted to drag him to the fresh-air base but was unable to do so.  He then returned to the fresh-air base but had to go out of the mine to get assistance.  Considerable time elapsed before the bodies were recovered.

Source: Loss of Life Among Wearers of Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (April 1944)
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