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George M. Jones Coal Company
Webb Mine Fire

Bellaire, Belmont County, Ohio
December 23, 1925
No. Killed - 9

When discovered, the fire had destroyed the 6th North door and was also well started in the coal on each side of the door.  The night foreman, learning of the fire, gathered the men from nearby sections and conducted them to the bottom, instructing them to stay there until he returned with more.  Nine men from this group decided to climb the stairway in the escape shaft.  All these men lost their lives to carbon monoxide fumes.

Cause of Fire: A piece of smoldering brattice cloth thrown out of a mantrip and caught a door on fire which ignited the coal ribs.

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Nine Workmen Burn to Death Near Bellaire
Steubenville Herald-Star, Ohio
December 23, 1925

Bellaire, Oh., Dec. 28 -- (A.P.) -- Official check today showed that nine men perished last night in a fire in the Webb Mine of the George M. Jones Coal Company, Toledo, at Shadyside, six miles south of here.

The death list:
  • John Sarre, 40
  • A. O. Truax, 50
  • Edward Kennedy, 37
  • Julius Galgaett, 35
  • Alfred Zaccigini, 31
  • Sam Markabrada, 50
  • John Kura, 27
  • Tom Stezens, 33
  • Martin Szigg, 39
Most of the dead resided in the little settlements near the mine.  All excepting Zaccigini and Szigg were married.

The fire is still raging in the main entry of the mine, while state officials and employees of the coal company are studying ways and means to combat it.  An investigation has been launched by Jerome Watson of the Ohio Bureau of Mines, who arrived with a state rescue car early this morning.

It has been determined that the fire was caused by a rock slide short circuiting electric wiring in the mines main tunnel.  All of the dead were taken from the main air shaft which is 240 feet in length.

While investigations were under way, sorrow hung over the mine community where most of the dead men lived.  Widows of the men, sleepless and grief stricken, claimed their dead today from the Bellaire morgue.  The bodies, charred and grimy were taken to the morgue as rescue workers brought them from the mine.

Shadyside had planned a community Christmas celebration until last night's tragedy drove all thoughts of holiday merriment from the community.  Most of the men had been working only four days a week, but they were going to pool some of their wages for the celebration.

Today's activities brought to light many instances of heroism among the miners trapped in the smoke filled shaft.  The fire was discovered in the main tunnel shortly after 7 o'clock, an hour and a half after the night shift had gone on duty.

Seventy men were at work in various places in the big mine.

The alarm was telephoned from the mine to the main office of the company which in turn notified all active sections of the mine by telephone.

By that time dense clouds of smoke filled the mine.

Foreman Jacob Schramm, 55, gathered 20 men in an anteroom, where cars were loaded and determined that the most plausible way of escape was through the main entry.  Forty-one other miners by devious ways had made for the entry, and it was through there that they eventually successfully escaped.  The other nine made for the main air shaft.  They were suffocated in their efforts to climb the tortuous stairway, the bodies being found on various steps.  Blackened by the smoke and choking from the fumes, the 61 men staggered out of the mine entry last night into the arms of the rescuers.  It was necessary to revive 25 but none of those who escaped through the main entry were seriously injured.

The Webb mine is one of the largest in this vicinity.  Between 400 and 500 men have been working mostly 4 days a week.

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