Huerfano County, Colorado Southwestern Mine Explosion
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Southwestern Mine Explosion, May 5, 1923
Eagle County News Colorado 5-12-1923
GAS IS CAUSE OF MINE DISASTER
FAULTY VENTILATION FAN COSTS TEN LIVES AT AGUILAR MINE
EXPLOSION KILLS TEN
RESCUE CREWS FORCED TO ENTER MINE THROUGH AN AIRSHAFT
Trinidad, Colo. --- Ten bodies of the miners have been removed from the Southwestern mine of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company in the Aguilar district, which was the scene of a gas explosion.
Two blackened and mangled bodies lie in an undertaking place at Aguilar, and eight others in the morgue here. The body of LEON CORDOVA, was the last one removed from the wrecked north slope.
The ten miners, whose bodies have been recovered, were caught in an explosion of gas in the mine during a fifteen-minute period when the ventilation fan was shut off. Officials believe that a light from a miner's torch touched off the explosion that wrecked the mine and killed the ten men.
The dead are: LEON CORDOVA, JOHN KONISTAKIS, JOHN SOUAGINIS, CHRIS KATELELS, CANDELARO TRUJILLO, TONY BOZMAN, ROY GALLEGOS, LUKE LUCERO, ALEX JOHNSON, P. P. McKENNA.
The body of CORDOVA was found within 200 feet of the entrance, indicating that he was making his way out when caught by the explosion.
Superintendent MORGAN WILLIAMS of the mine had just started out to investigate the shutdown of the ventilation fan. But the fifteen minutes that the fan had not been working, enough of the deadly gases penetrated the shaft, and the light exploded it.
He was hurled some twenty feet by the force of the explosion but was unhurt.
The air pump was not damaged by the explosion and was used to clear the shaft of foul air and pump fresh air to the rescue workers.
Falls from the wall of the slope were heavy but the roof in the greater portion remained intact, greatly facilitating the work of rescue.
Eighty men working in gangs and shifts assisted in the rescue work. The rescue was in charge of a rescue force rushed to the scene of disaster is a government bureau of mines car from Trinidad. Men from nearby camps, the C. F. and I. Company and the Victor American mines joined in the work.
Had the average normal number of men been working in the shaft at the time of the explosion mine officials say that between forty-five and seventy men would have been killed. The men who were killed were working on an idle day.
The explosion is the first one at Southwestern mine, and the only one in the Trinidad coal field since March of 1922, when nineteen were killed at Sopris.
The mine is three and one-half miles north of Aguilar, and has large workings, owing to the number of years it has been producing. The product averages 200 tons a day when in full operation, and gives employment to sixty and more miners.
The underground workers of the mine were badly wrecked by the explosion. The blast demolished the mouth of the mine and rescue workers entered the mine through an airshaft.
The Lincoln Star, Lincoln, NE 5-6-1923
FATE OF EIGHT MEN IN BLOWUP IS NOT KNOWN
Explosion In Rocky Mountain Fuel Company Workings Near Aguilar, Colo., Traps Ten Men, Behind Wreckage That Fills Lower Level.
TWO BODIES ARE FOUND FAR BELOW ENTRANCE
Rescue Crews Rush to Scene of Disaster and Make Desperate Attempts to Reach Workmen But Are Hampered In Efforts By Gas Fumes.
PUEBLO, Colo., May 5.---The bodies of John Konastakis and John Soupaginis, miners, had been recovered tonight from the Southwestern mine of the Rocky Mountain Fuel company at Aguilar, Colo., where a gas explosion this afternoon entombed ten men. It was believed by rescue workers that the remaining eight might be alive. Thirteen were in the mine at the time, but three managed to reach the surface.
The explosion ocurred far back in the mine. The two bodies which were recovered were found fifteen hundred feet from the mine entrance Rescue workers were working desperately digging their way through the wreckage of the interior to reach the men.
Gas in the shaft was so bad at first that rescue crews could remain under ground only ten minutes at a time, even when wearing gas masks. Ventilating fans were put in operation and the mine was rapidly being cleared of gas and tonight making the rescue work less difficult.
The miners are expected to be reached by midnight.
Bodies of the two men found were badly determined.
The rescue crew of the United States bureau of mines of Colorado was in Trinidad at the time of the explosion and immediately rushed to Aguilar. The crew consists of six men and extensive rescue equipment. Donning their gas helmets they immediately entered the wrecked mine and starting the search, groped about for the entombed men.
The mine is one of the smallest in the district and normally employs only fifteen men.
The Indianapolis Daily Star, Indianapolis, IN 7 May 1923
10 BODIES REMOVED FROM COLORADO PIT
TRINIDAD, Col., May 6.---The death list in the explosion yesterday in the Southwestern mine of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company near Aguilar, Col., stood at ten tonight. All bodies were recovered during the day. The bodies of eight victims of the explosion were brought to the morgue here by Coroner Thomas Bradly and two were taken to Aguilar.
Eighty men, working in shifts, struggled all night against the barriers of wreckage to recover the bodies, following the extension of fresh air into the slope.
The blast apparently caught the men as they toiled, about 1,800 or 2,000 feet inside the mine.