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Mine Disasters in
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Morgan Coal Company
Morgan Mine Fire

St. Clairsville, Ohio
September 14, 1966
No. Killed - 3



From the Google News Archives:
(news links open in a separate window)


Rescuer Death

William Adams, 33, of Barnesville, Ohio, was outside when a fire broke out deep inside the Morgan Mine near Bethesda, Ohio.  He ran into the mine and sounded the alarm.  Counting only 12 men running out, he then went inside again in search of Keith Spicer, 22, of Dillonvale, Ohio, a miner for only two months, and Tony Territti, 43, of Wheeling.  None of the three men surfaced from the mine.


2 Mine Disasters Claim Six Lives
The Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York
September 16, 1966

Bethesda, Ohio (UPI) -- Rescue workers risked their lives in the coal fields of Ohio and Pennsylvania Thursday in futile efforts to save six men.

Three miners, presumed dead, were sealed in a fiery tomb near here.  The crushed bodies of three others killed in a cave-in were brought out of a mine near Pottsville, Pa.

The cave-in victims had been working to shore-up tunnels in a mine which state officials had ordered closed Sept. 8 on the grounds it was unsafe.

The fire broke out deep inside a soft coal mine near this West Virginia-Ohio town at noon Wednesday (Sept. 14).  William Adams, 33, of Barnesville, Ohio, who had been outside the mine on a coffee break, ran into the mine and sounded the alarm.

He counted 12 men running out and then went inside again in search of Keith Spicer, 22, of Dillonvale, Ohio, a miner for only two months, and Tony Territti, 43, of Wheeling, W. Va.

Adams died a hero's death with Spicer and Territti.

The difficult decision to end rescue efforts was announced by Lester Zimmerman, head of the Ohio Mines Bureau.
"We can't get in," Zimmerman said.  "The rescue teams risked their lives with no success.  We feel now the men are absolutely dead and we can't risk the rescuers' lives any longer."
While rescuers here battled flames, similar teams near Pottsville, Pa., hampered by a driving rainstorm which turned the area into a sea of mud and dumped streams of water down the mine shaft, clawed their way through tons of rock and coal to reach three men trapped by a cave-in.

After 20 hours of digging in the Lykens No. 1 Mine, they found Russell Dibert of Wiconsico, Pa., and John Hnaeishon and Stanley Gravish, both of Cumbola, Pa., dead.  The coroner said they suffocated.

At Bethesda, heavy, black smoke poured out of all three mine openings during rescue operations.  The blaze had been started by a short circuit on a cutting machine cable.

Ben Morgan, owner of the mine, said if the fire burns itself out he would try to recover the bodies.  He said he did not know if he would ever work the mine again.

Zimmerman said if there were no air holes at the sealed entrances, the fire could burn itself out in two weeks.  If, however, the seal leaks, the fire could burn indefinitely and the bodies of three miners might never be recovered.


Mine Disaster Kills Three
Logansport Pharos Tribune, Indiana
September 15, 1966

Bethesda, Ohio (UPI) -- State mine officials today decided to seal a raging mine fire and with it the three miners believed dead inside.

Lester Zimmerman, head of the State Mines Bureau, announced the decision at 7:25 a.m. EDT.  Workers immediately began sealing the mine.
"We can't get in," Zimmerman said.  "Two rescue teams have risked their lives with no success.  We feel now the men are absolutely dead and we can't risk the rescuers' lives any longer."
The miners were entombed more than 1,000 feet from the entrance to the mine at noon Wednesday by a raging fire, ignited by a short circuit in a cable connected to a cutting machine.

Earlier today, a huge digging machine broke through into the burning mine but heavy smoke forced rescuers to give up the search.

Zimmerman said a second rescue team attempted about 7 a.m. to enter the mine through a 200-foot tunnel drilled into the wall.
"The second team confirmed what the first team had found -- at the end of the hole they could see only smoke and the edge of the mine wall."
He said the air inside the room where the rescuers had tunnelled was heavily contaminated with carbon dioxide.

The decision to seal the mine came after about an hour and a half of trying to suck the dense smoke from the mine.  The effort failed.

There were 15 men in the mine, owned by the Morgan Mine Co., when the fire broke out.  Twelve made their way to safety.

Trapped inside are:
Keith Spicer, 22, of near Dillonville, Ohio
Tony Territti, 43, Wheeling, W. Va.
William Adams, 33, Barnesville, Ohio

"It looks hopeless," said Lester Zimmerman, head of the state mines bureau.



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