Great Loss of Life Caused by Conflagration
Lawton Constitution Democrat, Oklahoma
September 3, 1908
Haileyville, Okla., Aug. 27. -- Twenty-eight dead bodies have been taken from the Hali-Ola Mine No. 1, up to this hour and only one man now is known to be missing.
Nineteen of the corpses were found in the sixth level. Walter Jones was imprisoned under a pile of slate which had caved in from the heat. Not one man who did not make an immediate escape after the first alarm survived.
McAlester, Aug. 27. -- Three hundred feet below the surface in the Hali-Ola mine at Haileyville, in avenues filled with seething flames and suffocating smoke, men, principally foreigners, lost their lives early this morning as a result of one of the most disastrous accidents in the history of the southwestern mines.
A barrel of oil at the bottom of the hoisting shaft was set on fire while one of the men was in the act of dividing it among the men for use. Instantly a sheet of flames enveloped the shaft base and in a minute, dense volumes of smoke were escaping to the surface. In half an hour the crackle and roar of the underground flames told a horrible story of death and destruction to everything inflammable. This afternoon, from another entrance to the mine half a mile away, a party of miners who attempted an entrance on a rescue expedition were checked by flames, smoke and unbearable heat coming from the subterranean furnace.
Nowhere is it possible to gain an entrance to the mine. There seems to be no limit to the force and area of the flames. Trolleys, timbers, material, explosives, oil, all are eaten by fire or melted or exploded.
Haileyville, Ok., Aug. 27. -- With the fire completely out in the Hali-Ola mine and the excited populace under good police protection, the rescue work is progressing rapidly tonight. Twenty-five dead bodies have been recovered. All were suffocated. Seven men are yet missing and their bodies are expected to be found tonight.
The Hali-Ola was considered the safest mine of the field. This is its first disastrous fire. Last May a year ago an explosion took place in the mine and two men were killed.
A majority of the men who were killed today were foreigners and several of them were married. Among the few Americans lost one or two were married.
Scenes around the shaft opening today have been pathetic in the extreme. Many relatives of the unfortunates have approached the mouth of the death pit of their loved one and cried and moaned piteously in their anguish. One woman was taken away a maniac over the loss of a husband.
Haileyville is near the center of the Oklahoma coal mining district. More than a thousand men are employed in the mines and the mining population is several thousand.
The accident was due it is believed to the inability of the man operating the barrel of black oil to properly manage it, and not to carelessness. A few men who were near the top of the shaft observed the first flash of flames from the base and saw the men congregated near there flee for their lives. They ran back into the long channels, followed by dense streams of black suffocating smoke. The cries of some were audible and their calls for help were pitiable in the extreme.