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Part 11

While collapses and cave-ins were the most immediate dangers for coal miners, the most spectacular were fires and explosions. The history of mining is filled with tragic accounts of mine accidents that killed or injured dozens of miners in an instant. In the Roslyn-Cle Elum field, there were numerous smaller explosions and fires, but only two major mine disasters in the seven decades that the mines were open.

The first of these disasters was an explosion at the first mine opened in the field, the No. 1 outside the town of Ronald. On May 10, 1892, after only six years in operation, an explosion at the mine resulted in the death of forty-five miners. An investigation concluded that the cause was inadequate ventilation within the mine. Despite the tragedy, the mine remained open until the 1920s.

The most spectacular of the Rosyln mine disasters was the explosion and fire at the No.

4 mine on October 3, 1909. On a quiet Sunday morning, as the faithful of Roslyn and Cle Elum were gathering to attend church services, a sudden explosion and fireball filled the sky, leading many to believe that the end of the world had arrived. Instead, the spectacular explosion and its aftermath signaled a tragedy, as ten miners and many animals lost their lives as flames shot several hundred feet into the air. The mine tipple and many of the mine buildings were destroyed in the fire, and coal production ceased at the No. 4 mine.