united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Rocky Mountain Fuel Company Southwestern Mine Explosion
May 5, 1923
No. Killed – 10
Explosion Kills Ten
Eagle County News, Colorado
May 12, 1923
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 her 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 demolilshed the mouth of the mine and rescue workers entered the mine through an airshaft.