A rescue party of 7 men entered the mine and were exploring for survivors. They had penetrated as far as the third heading when suddenly the current of air died away. The motor which operated the large fan above the entrance had burned out. Now exposed to the blackdamp, 4 of these men were quickly overcome. Dan R. Jones died from asphyxiation and the other 3 were removed by re-enforcements and revived under the treatment of physicians.
30 Miners Killed; Trapped by Gas Explosion at Thomas, W. Va.
The Washington Post, District of Columbia
February 5, 1907
Elkins, W. Va., Feb. 4. -- Thirty miners were killed this morning by an explosion in Mine No. 25, at Thomas, owned by the Davis Coal and Coke Company. Eight bodies have been recovered, as follows:
Dan R. Jones, mine boss and rescuer
The explosion occurred shortly after 7 o'clock this morning, during the interval between the end of the night shift work and the beginning of the day shift. The entrance of the drift was crowded with miners ready to enter the mine. While they stood waiting, rocks and timber belched forth with a roar from the opening of the mine, knocking over the waiting men.
Found Seven Bodies
The deep, muffled detonation following the explosion brought mine officials hurrying to the scene. As soon as the smoke and afterdamp had been cleared by the fan, entrance was affected, and the bodies of seven men were found about a hundred feet from the opening, where they had been overtaken by the burning gas. Six of these were foreigners and the other a young American, Jesse Allen. Their bodies were removed to a local undertaking establishment.
A rescue party organized by General Sup. Ott including D. M. Boyd, superintendent of the Henry mine; Dan R. Jones, mine boss; McDowell, coke superintendent; Jack Jenkins, Arthur Stewart, and a man named Woods, entered the mine this afternoon. They had penetrated as far as the third heading, the explosion having occurred in the fifth heading, when suddenly the current of air sent through the mine by the fan died away. The motor which operates the large fan above the entrance had burned out, and the entire party was at the mercy of the after-damp.
Struggle for Life
Dan Jones, aged about sixty, was the first to succumb. Seeing his plight, Boyd, Stewart, and Woods rushed to his rescue, and in doing so nearly forfeited their own lives. Others in the rear caught Boyd as he was falling to the ground. Woods soon lay gasping for breath and Stewart became unconscious.
There three men were dragged to the surface by re-enforcements of rescuers, but Jones was dead and Stewart and Boyd nearly at the last gasp when brought out. They revived under the treatment of physicians.
No further attempt was possible during the day to make another entrance, the rescuers being forced to wait the arrival of another motor for the fan.
Just before the explosion, another party of miners had entered the mine by was of an unused opening, at Coalton. They retraced their steps on the run when they heard the noise of the explosion.
The night boss had just emerged from the mine and the day boss was just ready to enter when the disaster occurred.
Pitiful Scenes at Mine
Pitiful scenes are being enacted around the mouth of the mine tonight. The families of the missing men are frantic with grief, and strenuous efforts are necessary to keep them from throwing themselves into the mouth of the mine.
This is the first time in the history of the Davis Coal and Coke Company that there has been an explosion in any of their mines. This mine in particular was supposed to be free from gas. Officials of the company are inclined to believe that the explosion was caused either by a half shot of dynamite igniting an accumulation of gas, or by escaping gases from a pocket being fired by a miner's lamp.
Within two weeks there have been three of the worst mine disasters in the history of the State. These mines were owned for many years by Henry Gasseway Davis, but are now the property of the Western Maryland Railroad.
Note: The official number dead in this disaster was 25.