Thirteen miners were overcome by toxic gas and suffocated while attempting to rescue the 6 victims of an explosion which occurred in the Old Savanna No. 2 mine near Savanna, Oklahoma.
Nineteen Dead Miners
Logansport Journal, Indiana
April 7, 1887
Nineteen men lost their lives Tuesday by an explosion of gas in coal shaft No. 2 at Savanna. The explosion killed six and thirteen rescuers went down to the relief of the first victims and were suffocated. Most of the dead are Italians.
The body of gas fired must have been immense, and the torrent of flames forced from the mouth of the slope was over 100 feet in height, and illuminated the whole country like an immense flash of lightning. It was followed with such a concussion as to startle everyone for miles around, and people in the immediate vicinity were severely shocked. The engine-house and lifting-works, a structure over 100 feet long and two stories high, was blown into splinters by the current driven out of the slope, and in a few minutes was enveloped in flames. From the character of the building, and being literally saturated with oil, it was not possible to save anything from the flames.
There were six men in the mine at the moment of the explosion, which occurred at ten minutes past 1 o'clock. These men were all killed. Their names are as follows:
The most distressing part of the accident is the suffocation of thirteen more, who were attempting with others to reach the fated men through the entries in No. 1.
The following are their names:
The workings of the two mines run together far down in the mines, but these means of communication have never been attempted to or kept open or in order, although they furnish the only means of escape from one mine to another, and now when they are needed it is impossible to get sufficient air through these old disused entries to enable the men to prosecute the search.
Out of the first party attempting to reach No. 2, five were lost and are still in the mine. A second party of twelve or fifteen went down. At the writing eight of these are reported lost in the mine, overcome with the after-damp, and undoubtedly dead.
This is thirteen lives sacrificed to inattentions and neglect in securing proper ventilation and getting rid of the gases which form in large quantities in the mine, and the end is not yet. There is no telling what may be the further loss of life in this attempt to rescue the bodies of those now in the mine.
A cutting is now being driven through into one of the upper lifts or entries. When done it is hoped they will be able to at least rescue the bodies of the unfortunates. The fans have been started in No. 2 by attaching the boiler of the switching locomotive to the steam pipes. Everything possible is being done to enable the men to reach the bottom of the slope.