One of those suffocated in the Nethken Mine was a miner, Robert Jackson from Kitzmiller, Maryland, age 25, who had gone down the shaft to warn the other 4 miners of the danger and lead them out. He had been married less than 6 months.
Five in Shaft Suffocated in Mine Accident
Kingsport News, Tennessee
November 5, 1948
Kitzmiller, Md. -- (AP) -- Five men died Thursday after smoke from a fire was blown into a mine near here by the mine's ventilating fan, authorities reported.
Others killed were identified as:
Clarence Keller, 60
Herman Keller, 42, brother of Clarence
Martin Keller, 61, brother of Clarence
Charles Kifer, 45, of Mr. Storm, W. Va.
George Nethken, owner of the mine, escaped.
Nethken gave this account of the tragedy:
Jackson, the outside man, noticed that the shed housing the ventilating fan was on fire. He rushed into the blazing structure and shut off the motor, but dense clouds of smoke from the smoldering timbers of the shed continued to pour into an air vent.
Jackson went down the shaft to warn the others. He met Nethken, who was coming out of the mine and was unaware of the fire. Nethken went out to get help and Jackson continued to the end of the 1,000 foot horizontal shaft to lead the four others out.
Rescue squads were called from communities near this small western Maryland mountain town.
They apparently had walked into a pocket of smoke, were overcome, and then suffocated.