1897 - SUFFOCATED IN A COAL MINE. SLOPE CATCHES FIRE AND SMOKE FILLS THE WORKINGS - YOMASKI'S ESCAPE.
Scranton, Pa., Nov. 1. - The most fatal mine disaster in the Lackawanna, or Wyoming, coal fields since, the Twin Shaft horror at Pittston over a year ago was developed in the fire which gutted the River Slope of the Delaware and Hudson company's Von Storch mine in this city Saturday. Six men were suffocated by smoke, and one other, a Polander, was numbered among the dead for awhile.
The dead are:
THOMAS HILL, boss.
JOHN FARRELL, company man.
JOHN FRANCIS MORAN, driver.
MICHAEL WALSH, laborer.
JOHN McDONNELL, miner.
The missing men were at work in the deck and surface veins, the former 100 and the latter sixty feet from the surface. They had but two avenues of escape. The shorter route was by way of the slope, which was a sea of flames, and the other route was via cross-cuts to gangways which lead to an air shaft nearly a mile from the spot where the men were working.
Fire kept them out of the slope, and the smoke which backed into all the workings prevented escape through the cross-cuts. Miners and city firemen in their efforts to fight the fire in the slope were handicapped by several extensive falls of roof, caused by the burning of the timbers, and by the fear of forcing the air current downward instead of upward. The workers were threatened by falls of roof and the "squeezing" of the walls. Chief Hickey, of the Scranton fire department, and eight firemen narrowly escaped death. They were driving the smoke before them by the use of water from a big spray nozzle when the air current was changed at the shaft and the smoke enveloped the party. They groped their was 200 feet to the opening and collapsed in the open air.
JOSEPH YOMASKI, one of the men entombed in the mine, was rescued at 10 o'clock Saturday night. The bodies of the other men were afterwards found and brought to the surface. The Pole in an interview explained that when his companions began to suffer their death agonies he at once urged them to follow him, but they refused. He escaped to an old air-way where he knew of a hand fan, over which he placed a box and in that inserted his head. He then kept the fan going for ten hours and kept himself alive until rescued.
November 1, 1897
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