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Timmins history: Rescue turns to recovery following Hollinger Mine fire

We pick up now on our local history feature surrounding the Hollinger Mine fire in February, 1928.

Museum director-curator Karen Bachmann says the mine had no fire crew, because unlike a coal mine, fire wasn’t considered a hazard in a gold mine.

Equipment was quickly sent up from Toronto, but it wasn’t enough.

“They did manage to contact Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania of all places, of course because of the coal mines in that area and looked for some expertise,” says Bachmann. “So they sent up crews of course to get men out of the mine and also remediate the fire.”

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That train was waved through, and made the trip in 21 hours.  Those crews recovered all 39 bodies from underground.

A three-day vigil was held at the mine site, as the rescue operation turned into a recovery effort.

“The community itself shut down almost for a week,” Bachmann recounts. “Everything was cancelled, there were funeral services. The Finnish Hall held the funeral service for the Finnish men, plus one of the Ukrainians.”

Photos of the funerals were used by the union movement to get people across Canada thinking about mine safety.  More on that next Monday.


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