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Coal mine deaths at 3 Point

John Ownes < > Harlan Daily Enterprise Thursday September 16, 1943 Volume 42 # 221



Friday September 17, 1943 Kentucky: Cooler tonight and Volume 42 #222 and Saturday morning, light Pages 1 & 8 frost in north portion tonight 12 of 18 Trapped Miners Found Dead Six Three Point Survivors Found Behind Barricade VICTIMS OF COUNTIES SECOND WORST DIASTER KILLED BY BLAST, GASES; RESCUE WORKERS DRAW PRAISE The bodies of 12 gassed and mangled coal miners were brought from the two-mile deep pit of the Three Point Coal Company early this morning, victims of an explosion whose deadly "after-damp" was escaped by six of their fellow-workers who were brought to the surface last night after rescue squads had worked 12 hours to drive a 5,000 - foot line of air to their barricaded area.

The mine gave up the six living men and three of the dead companions about 10 o'clock last night, the victims torn and burned. The other nine bodies were found about 6 a.m. today, accounting for all men caught in the county's second worst diaster. The three were found more than a mile from the drift mouth. Beyond this group, almost a mile farther back in 12-Left, were found the six men who had saved their lives behind brattice cloth. 12 MEN KILLED The dead, with their age, addresses, survivors and periods of employment at Three Point follows: Merle Blanton, 27, Molus, nephew of Frank Gross, secretary-treasurer of the company, wife, two children, eight years employment. Carson Ramsey, 26, Three Point, wife, two children, two years employment. E.M. Morgan, 30, Three Point, wife, two children, two years employment. Mine Foreman Albert Bonza, 46, Three Point, eight children, 16 years employment. Fred Irvin, 23, Three Point, wife, two children, two years employment. Leander Cole, 40, Cawood, wife. 12 years employment. Dave Osborne, 40, Cawood, wife, seven years employment. Henry Ed Osborne, 25, Cawood, wife, two children, one year employment. George Helton, 39 , Three Point, wife, four years employment. Frank McKenzie, Cawood, wife, six children, seven years employment. Lawrence Jordon, 40, Three Point, wife, seven years employment. Marion Osborne, 43, Three Point, wife, seven years employment. Marion Osborne, 43, Three Point, wife, 13 years employment. SIX MEN SURVIVE Harvey Lasley, Three Point, the only single man in the group, Charles Bailey, Cawood . Shelly Farley, Three Point . Paul Helton, Three Point . Homer Osborne, Cawood In the casualty list Carson Ramsey and E.M. Morgan are brothers-in-law, and formerly of Middlesboro, Ky. Dave and Henry Ed Osborne are brothers. Broad smiles bedecked the survivors when they appeared from the mine darkness in a coal car.

The Three Point diaster was the worst suffered in the county since December 9, 1932, when 23 men were killed in an explosion in "Zero" Mine of Harlan Fuel Company, Yancey.

The accident was the second worst mine fatality in the history of Harlan County coal mining, the worst being Harlan Fuel Company in December, 1932; when 23 men lost their lives in the old Zero mine. The Three Point tragedy occurred at 9 a.m. Thursday within a few hundred feet of the Zero explosion in the same mountain . Property lines of the two companies join.

MINE OFFICIALS BLAME MATCH FOR 12 DEATHS THREE POINT BLAST INQUIRY COMPLETED; EVIDENCE FOUND The lighting of a match to relight a flame safety lamp in an area heavily laden with methane gas was the cause of the explosion that took the lives of 12 miners of Three Point Coal Company September 16, it was revealed here today. The report was made by Rufus Bailey and H. Hamlin, district mine inspectors of Mines and Minerals and James F. Bryson, safety director of the Harlan County Coal Operators Association, who conducted an inquiry into the blast.

Methane gas, the report said, collected in the mining area from a worked out area of the pit. Blame was placed on the match lighting in the local report which followed a closer investigation than the inquiry on which G. Moses Patterson, chief of the state department, drew conclusions in a report released at Lexington yesterday. In his report, Mr. Patterson was quoted as saying that gas " apparently was ignited by a match used in an attempt to light up a defective flame safety lamp or for smoking." The report here said that later investigation showed that the safety lamp was not defective, but that it had been taken apart to permit lighting by a match instead of by the automatic safety lighter attached. The report added that the smoking angle had been discounted after further investigation. SEVEN KILLED OUTRIGHT Seven of the victims were killed instantly by violence of the explosion and the others died as they attempted to flee from the mine, the report said. The investigators; hindered in their investigation by water the blast released from underground pool, said they found the safty lamp, box of matches and one slightly burned match stem near where the bodies were found. There were nine unlighted matches in the box. The report said there was conclusive evidence that the blame should be placed on the lighting of the match. The diaster was the second worst of its type in the county's history. A blast at the Zero mine of Harlan Fuel Company in December, 1932, cost 23 men their lives. Harlan Daily Enterprise The Weather Thursday September 16, 1943 Kentucky: Cooler tonight and Saturday Volume 42 # 221 morning; light frost in south Page 1 & 8 portion tonight THREE POINT BLAST NOT FAR FROM AREA MINE IN WHICH 23 MEN WERE KILLED IN DECEMBER, 1932 Harlan countians watched silently through the night as rescue workers labored tirelessly to reach the underground room where 18 miners were trapped early yesterday morning in the mine of Three Point Coal Company---------------fearful the coalfield's second worst diaster had struck. The blast that rocked the Three Point mine occurred only about 1000 feet from the area of the adjoining "Zero" mine of Harlan Fuel Company, Yancey, in which 23 men were killed on December 9, 1932, including six Massengille brothers of Tazewell, Tenn. The "Zero" tragedy was the worst suffered in Kentucky coal mining history. WILL BE FELT But despite the magnitude of the claim the depths of the mountain laid on the ranks of Three Point miners, the entombed miners families and friends looked on stoically through the night as rescue teams worked in shifts. The talking of the crowds gathered on the mountainside near the mine drift mouth was in subdued tones while now and then orders were barked through the dark by the rescue chiefs. There was no open display of emotions along the rows of homes of Three Point…the streets yesterday were Sunday-quiet…only noise coming from children who did not realize that perhaps one-tenth of the manpower of their mining camp had been snuffed out in the mining pit. The Three Point explosion will have its effect on every coal camp in the county for days. Such diasters always have a repercussion that is hard to shake off…as one mining official expressed it. "When things like this happen there is a jittery feeling in the field."

Three Point Inquiry Delayed By Water Lexington, Ky., Sept. 22--- Inability to pump water out of the pit is delaying an investigation to determine the cause of an explosion which killed 12 workers in the mine of Three Point Coal Company near Harlan last Thursday. G. Moses Patterson, chief of the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, said yesterday. Patterson said a report on the disaster might be completed late today, if work progressed satisfactorily. Harlan Daily Enterprise Sunday October 17, 1943 Volume 42 # 247 Page 5 The WeatherKentucky: Continued Cold Sunday Trapped Miners Saved By 'Grace of God' After Building Model Gas Barricade Underground (The following story of the Three Point Coal Company mine explosion of September 16, in which 12 of 18 trapped miners died, was prepared by James F. Bryson, safety director of the harlan County Coal Operators Association, who directed the rescue operations that saved six men. Mr. Bryson requested that it be explained that techinal terms have ben left out of the story in order to make it clearer for the layman. By James F. Bryson Six men are alive today by the grace of God and not by the stupendous efforts they put forward on their own behalf. A gas explosion occurred in the No. 1 mine of the Three Point Coal Corporation Thursday, September 16 at 9:12 a.m. Twelve men's lives were cut off, four by fumes, three by violence from the explosion and five were overcome by carbon monoxide, that insidious creeping poison gas that is generated following a mine explosion. The six men referred to were some 25000 feet from the orgin of the explosion. They heard and felt the concussion from the terrific blast that tore along rooms and entries taking its toll of lives as it went, causing damage to ventilating apparatus and other pieces of equipment. Tried To Walk Out The explosion had occurred between these six men and the mine entrance. To reach the out side portal they had to walk through the explosion area. After some thought, two men attempted to get to the outside. They walked 1500 feet and in their own words it was "too" hot for them to go further, so they returnedand a conference was held. They were guided by an older and wiser man so they decided to build a barricade. They had heard stories of men in an explosion being saved by this means. Then first thought was to place the barricade across the entry. They would be required to build another barricade across the air course and theythought they did not have enough material to build both. They selected a single entry, that had been driven and used as a place to answer nature's calls for workman. The place selected was five feet in height,20 feet wide and 70 feet deep. The barricade was erected across the mouth of this entry. The barricade itself was one that any man or men should be proud of; it was composed of ties and post built on top of each other. The outside covering of the barricade was vent tubing, split and hung over these ties and posts. Not a nail was used in the construction. Barricade Substantial It was substantial and had sealed off 266 cubic yards of air, or sufficient air for each man to live 44 1-3 hours had it been necessary for them to have been in the mine that long. Fortunately, they were out of the mine in less than 12 hours. While these men built a "very substantial and effective barricade", we cannot claim the barricade saved their lives. (They were saved by the grace of God. The barricade as built would have stopped the on-creeping insidious poisonous gases of the explosion provided the men had been behind it. However, would they know sufficient to build a barricade to protect themselves they did not avail themselves of that protection. They had the mistaken idea that many miners have----that you can smell carbon monoxide. No man can smell the gas. It is tasteless and odorless. They left a small hole at the right-hand corner of the barricade so when they smelled the gas they would get behind the barricade. While the ventilating system was knocked out and these gases could not be carried on the ventilating current, yet the diffusion of the gases into each other continued. Had the rescue parties not got down to these men in such fast time, it would have taken only a little while longer for the carbon monoxideto have reached the imprisoned men and we would have had six more victims. Praise, Condemnation The men are to be commended highly for their forethought in building such a fine barricade, but they can be condemned equally as well because of their thought, that they could smell the carbon monoxide before attempting to use the barricade. The grace of god was with them. Men's lives have been saved by barricades used after explosions. They can be built of almost anything-brattice cloth, clothing, goo piles. The United States Bureau of Mines claims that only 10 per cent of the men killed in an explosion die by flame or violence. The other 90 per cent die from carbon monoxide. If men escape the violence of the explosion and have to pass the explosion area to reach the outside, they had for better get back and build a suitable spot and build one or two barricades and sit down to wait for rescue parties. Remember for every cubic yard of air you barricade off, a man can live one hour.. Walked Into Death In almost all explosions it can be seen where men lived after the blast and walked right into the heart of it , dropping and dieing right there. Even in this disaster five men traveled 400 feet and died there. Had they remained in the working place and thrown up a barricade, they would have had a better opportunity to survive than they had by trying to come out. It is said they would have lived had they done this. Perhaps they would have had insufficient time to build their barricade, but they would have had a better opportunity than they had when they walked into the products of the explosion. There are two pictures showing the barricade. FIRST PICTURE Here is a picture of the barricade six miners built in the Three Point Coal Company mine after their path to the outside had been blocked by deadly gas that followed an explosion. Here is shown the barricade outside of which the men stood while awaiting rescue. It has been called a model by mining experts. SECOND PICTURE Here the barricade is shown with parts of it torn a way to give a view of its construction. It was tight and substantial and capable of warding off the deadly mine gas that was creeping slowly toward the imprisoned men. ( Photos by Wade Stanfill, of Star Studio ) Harlan Daily Enterprise July 16, 1943 Robert Osborne Killed In Mine Robert Osborne, 34-year-old miner of Yocum CreekCoal Company's No. 2 mine at Draper was killed beneath a slate fall yesterday. A native of the county, Osborne has been working at the Yocum Creek Coal Company mine for six months. Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Hazel Osborne; parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fate Osborne, five brothers.

Thursday December 14, 1944 Volume 43 # 299 WEATHER Fair west portion; clearing and a little colder east portion tonight; Friday fair and warmer Slate Fall Kills Two Miners At Three Point Third Man Injured, Two Others Dodge Huge Death Slab Two men were killed and a third was injured beneath a large slate fall that barely missed two other men in the mine of Three Point Coal Company yesterday afternoon. The dead men are Emmett Carmack, 28, and John Nolan, 37, conveyor loaders. Ray Osborne, loader, is in Harlan Hospital suffering injuries. The slab of sla

Thursday December 14, 1944 Volume 43 # 299 WEATHER Fair west portion; clearing and a little colder east portion tonight; Friday fair and warmer Slate Fall Kills Two Miners At Three Point Third Man Injured, Two Others Dodge Huge Death Slab Two men were killed and a third was injured beneath a large slate fall that barely missed two other men in the mine of Three Point Coal Company yesterday afternoon. The dead men are Emmett Carmack, 28, and John Nolan, 37, conveyor loaders. Ray Osborne, loader, is in Harlan Hospital suffering injuries. The slab of sla

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