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Mine Disasters in the United States


Zeigler Coal Company
Zeigler Mine Fire

Zeigler, Franklin County, Illinois
November 3, 1908
No. Killed 31

Consolidated Zeigler Mine Recoveries Report  (4.6 Mb)  PDF Format
Includes recovery efforts following these disaster events at the Zeigler Mine:
See also:   Zeigler Mine Explosion, Apr. 3, 1905
Zeigler Mine Explosion and Fire, Jan. 10, 1909
Zeigler Mine Explosion, Feb. 10, 1909


Rescuer Deaths

A fire broke out in this mine after the day shift had left the mine.  The fire was caused by crossed electric wires and although it was originally very small, it was expanded and originated several explosions and eventually brought about the death of 31 men who attempted to put it out.  Once Draeger helmets were purchased, a single man wearing one of the helmets was sent into the mine to reconnoiter.  It is reported that the cartridges were caked and the man panicked, pulled off the helmet and perished.


About 5 o'clock in the evening November 3rd, 1908, after the day shift had left the mine, a fire originated in the door in the crosscut between the 1st and 3rd west "C" south entries opposite room No. 17.

This fire is supposed to have been caused by crossed electric wires, and small as it was in the beginning it caused the mine to be idle for a year and ten months, originated several explosions, and brough about the death of 31 men who attempted to put it out.

The fire was not discovered until 6:30 p.m., November 3rd.  The ventilation at the time was forcing air up the 2nd west "C" south entry and returning it throught the 3rd west "C" south, and when the rescue squad entered at 8:30 p.m. the fire had made headway east along the 3rd west "C" south entry to the neck of room No. 12.  To check its advance, a stopping was built at the entrance of the 2nd west "C" south, this being completed at 11:00 p.m.

At midnight the fire burned the gases, the flame traveling along the 3rd west "C" south and setting on fire the overcast across the south cut-off at the point on the mine map marked "H."

The seven men in the mine at the time reached the surface in safety, and by 10 o'clock the following morning the work of sealing both shaft was completed.

Several attempts from the surface were made to put out the fire. A bore-hole carrying a 4 inch pipe was put down at the location of the above mentioned crosscut across the south cutoff and by this means a stream of water was pumped into the mine steadily for 5 or 6 days.  Then 60 barrels of sulphur were burned in a specially constructed furnace and the sulphur dioxide gas thus generated was forced down the airshaft and bore-hole by a blower fan. Finally steam under an initial pressure of 100 to 150 pounds was turned into the mine for 5 days through the bore-hole.

In the meantime, eight Draeger oxygen helmets were purchased.  Shortly after the introduction of the steam, a negro wearing one of the helmets was sent alone into the mine to reconnoiter.  It is reported that he had been drinking liquor, that the potash cartridges were badly caked from previous use and that there were no fresh cartridges on hand.  The negro finding his breathing getting more and more difficult became frightened, pulled off the helmet and perished.



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