The men had dug from under this precipice for a small distance when, all of a sudden, the slag from the top began to slide and an avalanche of fine smoldering powder-like cinders together with burning slag and a supply of liberated gas and steam descended on top of the workers as they worked on the track below. As the slag began to slide it uncovered some gas pockets which immediately exploded setting everything in flames. Sometimes the slag will burn for two or three years inside a big pile.
Before the men realized what was happening, they were surrounded by debris and flames. A few of the men had time to escape, but the other six were caught directly in the path of flame and steam. Some of the men were almost buried in the pile. Garinger and Hagerty, the two men most terribly burned, had their clothing burned off, their flesh scorched and their very skin peeled from their bodies in several places. The other four were in a similar, but not quite so serious, condition when they were dug out by their fellow workmen. Some of the men swallowed the flames, and it is a wonder that any could survive. .One or two were reported to have jumped into a nearby pond to quench the fire in their clothing and this but added to their burns by the resulting steam.
The catastrophe and resulting deaths cast a pall over the entire Rathbun and Mystic vicinity where all the men were well known. It is believed that Nova Sanford also died at a later date.
In 1909, Fowler and Wilson started their No. 2 mine a little east of Rathbun. It was a slope mine on the east edge of Walnut Creek with an overhead tram across the creek and back to the railroad. This mine also had its share of fatalities. In 1920 John Miholovich, age 35, died from injuries in the mine followed by pneumonia. In 1916, Dominic Pernal, age 28, was killed by falling timbers. The timbers had become dislodged when the motor, pulling a string of cars, jumped the tracks. This mine lasted for 19 years until 1928 and undermined 18 acres.