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Mama No. 3 Mine Disaster 1928

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 24 Feb 1928 [unknown]
Location: Jenny Lind, Sebastian County, Arkansasmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Arkansas Disasters
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters | Southeast United States Mining Disasters | Mama No. 3 Mine Disaster
Contact: United States Mining Disasters

Contents

History and Circumstances

There were at least seven mines in the community. The beginning of that day must have seemed like any other ordinary day, but it would turn into a day that many people could not forget. Shortly in the early morning around 8:30 a.m., on February 24, 1928, an explosion rocked Mama No. 3 mine. A hundred and twenty-five men were in the mine at the time. The explosion occurred in mine No. 28, connected to No. 3.

Rescue Efforts

Every miner in the district and volunteers were hurriedly formed into rescue parties. Hundreds of people, members of the miners' families and others, gathered around the mouth of the mine and urged on the rescue parties. Ambulances and doctors from the area rushed to the scene in hopes of treating any survivors. One hundred and five miners were able to escape through mine No. 20. After rescuers blasted a hole in the wall connecting Mine No 3 to 20. About 35 of these miners were injured in the initial explosion, and others suffered from the effects of gas.

At least 20 miners were thought to be trapped in the mine, but a curtain of fire in the 3500-foot slope of the mine prevented rescue workers from reaching them. The fire was one-half mile from the entrance. Miners who escaped said they saw the bodies of Dorris Templeton, 23, a nephew of W. E. Templeton mine superintendent, and Valentine Vervack, 40, a pit boss. Those who escaped held little hope that any of the remaining miners trapped in the explosion were still alive. Nevertheless, rescue efforts continued with the hope of finding more survivors.

After the fire was contained and rescue attempts resumed, it was still extremely difficult because of the wreckage and heavy fumes left by the explosion. Rescue crews were forced to proceed slowly, and did not reach the point of the blast until late in the afternoon. Later, the mine gave up its dead, and 11 men (Valentine Vervack, James Kimberling, Dorris Templeton, Winse Brown, Forrest Gibbs, Louis Mohr, Frank Curott, Charles Newman, Edgar Westmoreland, Joe Sadar, and John Kosmatin) were brought to the surface of the mine about 3 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 1928 by the rescue crews. Walter Chapple was taken from the mine about 3:30 p.m., and Jack Williams was brought to the surface at 5 p.m. His body was found in a water hole where he apparently tried to escape the terrible heat and fire that followed the blast. The bodies were sent to Fort Smith, Arkansas morgues.

Only two seriously injured miners were still in the hospital. The remaining survivors were able to go home with their families.

Results and Findings

State Mine Inspector Claude Speegel conducted the investigation. He found that gas in the tunnels of the mine caused the explosion. During his investigation, he determined a connection was made between Mama Coal Company No. 3 mine and the adjoining No. 18 mine of the Consolidated Sales Company. A wooden stopping with a slide regulator was put in to seal off the connection. The No. 3 mine was idle, and the fan was not running from February 21 to the morning of February 24. At 8:30 a. m. gas was ignited at this regulator by the open light of a man from No. 18 mine who had been sent to change the opening. His body was found under the debris of the stopping.

The explosion was spread a short distance into the No. 18 mine by dust, but was stopped by dampness and expansion. The same conditions were observed in the No. 3 mine, where 12 men were killed and 115 escaped. Ventilation in both mines was inadequate. Open lights were used. Opening the lamp inside the mine exposed the flame to potentially flammable gas that caused a fatal explosion. No rock dust had been applied, and this allowed the flames to expand in the mine. Pulverized rock, usually lime stone, is sprayed on walls inside the mine to prevent dust explosions. The mine walls had holes, shot with black powder, that further contributed to the force of the explosion.

Fireboss examinations had been made (an inspection of the mine for dangers, particularly explosive, poisonous or suffocating gases) as required by mine safety rules. The conditions noted after the explosion were not noted or mentioned in any of the examinations by company officials.

Later, many of the families brought lawsuits against both coal companies, Consolidated Sales Company and Mama Coal Company. The trial judge limited the number of witnesses wanting to testify about their loss during the trial. The coal companies prevailed in the lawsuit, and the families filed an appeal. The appeals court ruled the trial judge had erred by limiting testimony during the trial, but again ruled against the families, stating it was not enough to overturn the verdict.

Victims

Miners
Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Valentine Vervack Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
James A. Kimberling Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Dorris James Templeton Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Winse Henry Brown Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Willis Forest Gibbs Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Louis Mohr Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Frank Curott Yes No No Killed in explosion
Charles Henry Newman Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Edgar L. Westmoreland Yes Yes Yes Killed in explosion
Joseph Sadar Jr Yes No No Killed in explosion
Jack Williams Yes No No Killed in explosion
John Kasmatin Yes No No Killed in Explosion
Walter Chappie No No No Killed in explosion, in Mine #18

Sources





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