Bellaire, OH Willow Grove Coal Mine Explosion, Mar 1940
50 MEN TRAPPED IN MINE AT BELLAIRE.
KNOWN DEATH TOLL THREE; 127 SAVED.
GAS EXPLOSION ENTOMBS MANY IN SHAFT; FATE OF VICTIMS UNCERTAIN AS FUMES DELAY RESCUE CREWS.
Bellaire, O., -- FIfty miners were entombed tonight in the Willow Grove coal mine -- recognized as one of the country's model bituminous mines --
where a terrific gas explosion caught 180 men, killing at least three and injuring scores.
The fate of those still trapped in a chamber known as "Twenty-Two South," three miles from the mine entrance, was uncertain nine hours after the explosion. Officials of the Hanna Coal company had not given up hope that some would be taken out alive, but members of the rescue crew that it would be a miracle if any survived.
At least 91 had been helped out of the mine by rescue workers. Many were burned and bruuised and most of them suffered from the effects of the poison gases that filled the tunnels after the explosion, shortly before noon.
Other miners had been able to leave thru emergency exists without assistance. Many went home and an accurate count was impossible.
R. L. IRELAND, JR., of Cleveland, president of the mining firm, hastened from St. Clairsville to aid in rescue work. He said the rescue crews, equipped with gas masks and working as rapidly as the dangerous conditions for in the mine would permit, were digging for those still trapped.
The miners straggled out by ones and twos. They were dazed and the more seriously affected were hurried to hospitals in Martins Ferry and Bellaire. Some had to be carried out on stretchers.
Tells of Conditions.
STEVE BURKE, 29, of Maynard, was one of the first men to walk from the mine. He described the conditions caused by the blast as "terrible."
"I don't see how anybody who was working in the vicinity of the explosion could have lived," BURKE said.
Fourteen men were being treated in Bellaire hospital and three in Martins Ferry hospital. Another 33 were taken to the Martins Ferry hospital in ambulances.
The Willow Grove mine was noted for its safety standards and ideal working conditions. Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt had inspected and praised it in 1935. Mine officials believed that the safety factors had prevented greater loss of life.
"Not Much Hope"
Deputy Sheriff RALPH HARRISON of Belmont county, describing the rescue of the miners, said that "some of them were pretty much gassed."
"There's not much hope for the remaining ones," HARRISON said as he returned from the mine.
Other reports stated, however, that officials of the Hanna Coal Co., which operates the largest bituminous mine in eastern Ohio, had talked to some of the trapped men over a mine telephone. These officials thot [sic] they would be rescued.
The known dead were Mine Superintendent JOHN RICHARDS, HOWARD SANDERS, outside tipple foreman, and RALPH SUTTON, 35, of St. Clairsville.
A runaway coal train gave the first indication of the explosion. Obviously out of control of the motorman, STEVE OLEXIS of Dun Glen, the train shot out of the mouth of the mine.
The Coshocton Tribune Ohio 1940-03-17
Listing Of Fatalities In The Willow Grove Mine Explosion, taken from the St. Clairsville Gazette Ohio 1940-03-22
Supt. JOHN H. RICHARDS, 44, St. Clairsville.
HOWARD SANDERS, Outside Foreman, 52, St. Clairsville.
CHARLES L. CARROLL, General Inside Foreman, 50, St. Clairsville.
JOSEPH ROQUE, 45, St. Clairsville.
LOUIS ROQUE, 42, St. Clairsville.
ROBERT BAKOSH, 32, Neffs.
CECIL W. GRIMES, 30, St. Clairsville.
EDWIN PATTERSON, 34, Bellaire.
CORNELIUS JOBES, 25, St. Clairsville.
MIKE SERDULA, 62, Midway.
MARK PASSMORE, 52, Glencoe.
GEORGE FULTON, 29, Warnock.
WAYNE HYNES, 29, St. Clairsville.
JOE HESS, 43, Neffs.
ANDY SKLENICKA, 26, Fairpoint.
ANDY HOBART, 41, Midway.
JOHN GARLEGA, 37, Stewartsville.
WALTER FRANCE, 50, St. Clairsville.
JAMES WARFIELD, 58, Neffs.
ROSS McFADDEN, 54, Neffs.
ELMER CLARK, 46, Stewartsville.
WILLIAM GARDNER, 58, St. Clairsville.
STANLEY WASIELEWSKI, 52, Lafferty.
LAWRENCE HRABAK, 46, Maynard.
HARRY KLEE, 38, Neffs.
FRANK DOPKISS, 36, Maynard.
ED ZALESKI, 26, Neffs.
JOHN CELUCH, 46, Fairpoint.
STEVE PETRAN, 54, Neffs.
CLARENCE WIGGINS, 35, Bellaire.
WALTER SLATER, 29, Bannock.
GEORGE BRINGMANN, 24, Bellaire.
MIKE AUGUST, 40, Lafferty.
EMILIO DALPIAZ, 47, Lafferty.
CHARLES LUPI, 42, Bellaire.
JOSEPH DALPIAZ, 38, Lafferty.
CONSTANTINO DAROMA, 53, Neffs.
PAUL KULEVICH, JR., 27, Willow Grove.
JOHN MIKETO, 45, Belmont.
ANDY RUDOL, 34, Neffs.
JOHN MARDK, 33, Neffs.
ANDY VALOCIK, 31, Neffs.
ANDREW GAREK, 53, Midway.
JOHN McFETRIDGE, 37, Stewartsville.
EARL PACK, 30, Neffs.
MITCHELL JONES, 44, Midway.
RUSSELL FENDON, 37, Neffs.
JOE PROSEK, 30, Bellaire.
EMMET KROTKY, 38, Neffs.
JOHN DEMKOWICS, 37, Neffs.
JOE RIDDLE, 52, St. Clairsville.
PETE RINKES, 36, St. Clairsville.
JOSEPH W. KRESACH, 45, Fairpoint.
CAP BENSON, 50, Willow Grove.
RUDOLPH VRBA, 47, Bellaire.
RALPH SUTTON, 40, St. Clairsville.
GARRETT KELLEY, 38, Willow Grove.
RAY DAVIS, 50, Bridgeport.
DAVID CHINI, 27, Bannock.
JOHN B. KNAPSKI, 38, Bannock.
WILLIAM SHILLER, 38, Neffs.
JOHN SKLENICKA, 24, Fairpoint.
JOHN DeMOPOLOS, 54, Neffs.
ALBERT KANOPSIC, 33, St. Clairsville.
CHARLES BOBKA, 47, Neffs.
FRANK PASCO, 49, Neffs.
MARTIN BOBKA, 28, Neffs.
ALBERT EASTHAM, 36, Neffs.
MIKE POKERINO, 30, Bannock.
PAUL KASARDA, 46, Midway.
PHILLIP PAYTASH, 30, Lafferty.
The St. Clairsville Gazette Ohio 1940-03-22