Mine Rescue Crews from many sections make vain efforts to reach bodies

Flames are 2,000 feet from entry

Short circuit on high tension believed to have caused the disastrous fire


Jake Valerious, 19
Elmer Kirkpatrick, 30
Brown Smith, 37
_____, Klepeck, 40
Ed O'Brien, 30
Thomas Waugh, 45
James Tharis, 35

Dowell, Ill. Feb 24 (1921)

The last hope for the lives of the seven men who were trapped in the Kathleen mine by fire late yesterday was abandoned early today, and the mine was sealed up in an effort to extinguish the flames.

Mine rescue teams from different parts of the state after a consultation at midnight decided to seal the mine.  At that time it was thought impossible that the men who were imprisoned on the third and fourth levels could be alive.

Work of sealing the mine was started at 1:30 and completed shortly after 5 o'clock this morning.  The flames were still raging when the work was finished.  The mine will be left sealed for about thirty days.

The Kathleen mine is the property of the Union Colleries Company of St. Louis.  Four hundred and twenty-two men will be thrown out of work by the disaster.

The fire broke out late yesterday afternoon 2,000 feet from the main west entry near the 200 foot level.  It is believed to have been caused by a short circuit on a high tension wire.  Officials declared that little gas was present.

Early efforts to reach the men imprisoned proved futile and a call was sent for aid from neighboring towns.  Mine rescue crews were dispatched from Duquoin and Royalton while the mine rescue car was rushed from Benton.

The intensity of the fire, however, prevented all efforts to enter the mine.  Rescue workers stated that it was impossible that the men had escaped suffocation but the work continued with the hope that some avenue of entry would be found.

The imprisoned men came from towns adjoining Dowell.  Little excitement was manifested and the families of the men took the news of their death quietly.  They waited anxiously for word but they had been trained to expect the worst.

©Susan Cook; Illinois Trails History and Genealogy