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THE PENRHIWCEIBER PIT FIRE.

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THE PENRHIWCEIBER PIT FIRE. INQUEST ON THE VICTIM. JURY'S RECOMMENDATION The inquest touching the death of Roftort Barrow, who lost his lifo at the Penrhiwceiber Colliery, on Saturday, the 30th ult., took place at the Leo Hotel, on Friday morning, before Mr R. J. Rhys, coroner. Mr. W. Kcmbole (Messrs. C. and W. Kenshole) appeared for the Com- pany, Mr. A. T. James, Pontypridd, for the Federation, and Coun. D. Watts Morgan, the miners' agent, watched the case for the Fed- eration, and Coun. G. H. BaH, for tho lodge. The Home Office was represented by Messrs. F. A. Gray, H.1. nspector of Mines; Robert Nelson, H.M. Electrical Inspector of Mines, and F. G. Trump, Inspector of Mines. I Evidence of jdontification was given by Charles Barrow, who said that his father was 54 years of age. He was a widower, and lived at 18. Glanlay-street. He worked at Penrhiw- ceiber Colliery. Dr. Fowkes was called, but in answer to the first question put to him, he said lie had not seen the body.—Coroner: Then you are no use here. What are you here for?—Witness: I do not know.—Coroner (addressing the po- lice officer in charge): Who is the doctor who examined the body?—Dr. Fowkes: No one saw him.—Coroner: No one! 1 gave particular or- ders for medical evidence to be called.—The Police Officer: j had no instructions.—The Coroner: I sent instructions to Inspector Da- vies at Mountain Ash. (Addressing the doctor): You never saw the deceased?—Dr. Fowkes: No.—Coroner: Then I will not trouble you. Watkin Watkins, overman at the colliery, said he found Barrow lying face upwards on the side of the roadway. A journey of trams was off the road some twenty yards lower down on an endless rope, which bad been broken. Deceased seemed to have been run over by the trams. His boots and stockings were off, his arm was also broken. The rope had been broken owing to the fire. Evan Lodwick. engineman on the branch, said he saw deceased about 11 o'clock on Friday night just outside the engine house. He called witness out, and said he had had a. telephone message to tell everyone to go out through the returns. They spoke for a minute or so as to what had happened. While they were talking witness noticed smoke, and they had some con- versation as to the best way to go out. De- ceased said that if he could go 200 yards up the deep he would know his way. Witness went through the return airway, and shortly after- wards he noticed the trams running wild. Wit- ness feared something had happened to deceas- ed, but the place was getting so full of smoke that he could ot go back. CLIPPER'S EVIDENCE. David Gordon Bye said he was a clipper at- taching the trams to the endless rope at the top of the slum. On Friday night he was near the motor engine. No one was attending to the engine. He was just outside the ongine house when he heard a. peculiar hissing noise from in- side the house, he rushed in to turn the switch off the engine When he opened the door the smoke was so thick that lie fell down. He picked himself up. There were no flames under the engine. He could do nothing to put the lire out. The engine worked the empties up to the creeper. The fire was not a big one when he first saw it. — In reply to Mr. Gray, witness said he was sure that the motor was working when he went in and turned it off. He noticed the electric light on when he went in. He heard no report before the hissing noise. Wil- liam Evans, the fireman, started the motor at the beginning of the shift. He or Mr. Holly. the overman, used to do so, and they used to stop it when they got the trams up. Witness had nothing to do with the motor. He had not been in there before that night. If trams got off witness used to stop the engine. There was some cal dust in the engine house. He had been on the lower floor. There was grease on the wheel and coal dust in the room. The motor was started at 9.30. There was no one in the motor house to his knowledge until he went in. The creeper was working then. He saw no flames coming from the motor or from the floor underneath. When he told the men of the fire he was sent to get the other men out. —In reply to the Coroner, witness said the en- gine was unattended all night.—By Mr. Nelson, The engine made a noise while running, and when he switched it off the noise stopped. The motor was fastened to an iron girder.—Mr. V T. James: There were buckets of sand in the room. He could not see them that night be- cause of the smoke.—Mr. Gray: Did you know that sand was to be used to put out a fire ?— Witness: No.—The Cornoer: He had noth- ing to do with it, apparently. IS IT SAFE? Mr. E. M. Hann, the general manager and agent of the Company, produced a plan of the motor, creeper and endless rope. He said the fire from the motor burnt the endless rope, causing the trams which killed Barrow to run wild. — In reply to Mr. Gray he said that he believed the endless rope was then stopped. He did not believe electricity caused the fire. It was caused by friction of some kind, probably in the bolt driving the creeper. He thought it must have slipped, either by an overload on the rope or trams off the road. Resin had been put on the previous day to make it less liable to shift.—The Coroner: And to increase the friction. ^— Witness, continuing, said William Evans, the fireman, was supposed to watch the motor. He was not supposed to remain there all the time. A man named Thomas had in- structions to stop it every time it was necessary to do so. The voltage at the motor was 2,200. There was an electric light oyer the motor, and, one on the dock below. The lighting a.nd the motor were independent. After the fire, the top lamp was, destroyed completely, and the lower one was intact.—In reply to Mr. Nelson, witness said if Bye saw fire underneath the motor, the motor must have.been on fire, but he believed Bye saw the flames coming from underneatji. Bye, recalled, said that the fire came from below the iron plate, and he pointed to the spot on the plan, which confirmed Mr. Hann's the- Dry. Part of the flooring over the pully was 1 burnt. In reply to tho Coroner, Mr. Hann said i sither William Evans or Holly was supposed to be there while the motor was working. There tvas sand provided.—The Coroner: But ap- parently no one to use the sand. Do you con- sider it safe to allow an ongine with a ten- dency to produce sparks to be unattended?— Mr. Hann: It had no tendency to do so.—Cor- oner I will withdraw tendency and say lia- jiiity. Do you consider it safe ?—Witness Ye3. —Coroner: You say so, but with memory of he Great Western fire before me, I doubt it.— [>y Mr. A. T. James: The fire was caused by 'riction.—Mr. James: By the engine having ;oo much to do?— Witness; Not—Mr. James: ;00 much to do?— Witness; Not—Mr. James: It must be abnormal.—Witness: No, it might come on gradually.—By Mr. Nelson: They had before seen smoke from the belt; on that occasion the spindle worked through to a wood- en support, which became heated. He discov- ered it himself, and had it remedied. Sir. William Leyshon said he had been elec- trician at the colliery for the past 13 months, and before "hat he was at Gamant. He had had 17 years' experience as an electrician. Ho examined the motor in question on Friday morning. Tho place was clean, but there was some grease on the cog-wheels. He had no- thing to do with putting the resin on the pre- vious day.—In reply to Mr. Gray, he said he was under the motor a week before. There was some grease tltid oil on the wheels. One Switch was thrown off by David Bye, and the other automatically. The fire was not caused by the motor. Nearly half of the strap was burnt away. Tho strap was made of composition. If trams got off the road, or there was too great a load, the motor would be automatically stop- pod. — In reply to Mr. Nelson, witness dc«- cribed h>s testing set. He tested this a fortnight before, the accident.—By Mr. James: There was no one in charge of the electrical machm- ery during the night. He had given llliam Evans instructions what to do.—By Mr. Keri- Evans instructions what to do.—By Mr. Keri- shole: There were two electricians on the work doing repairs that night. There were only two motors running that night. FIREMAN EXPLAINS THE ARRANGEMENTS. William Evans. the fireman, said he had a small district, and in addition had looked after the motor since it started. He was instructed by the last witness what to do. He would start it and go away When sufficient empties had been taken to the working places he would go back and stop the motor. He started it Friday night about 9.40. It used to run from three- quarters of an hour to two hours at night. Bye called to him, and he went towards it, but could only get within five or six yards of it,—- By Mr. Gray: He and Holly remained getting the empties up. and were in charge of the motor until they stopped. Only a few trams were put on the creeper during the night. Bye told him the motor was on fire. THE CAUSE OF THE FIRE. j Mr. David Davies, filter, said he had nothing to* do with the moior. but looked after tne creeper and the gearing. On Friday he put some resin on to prevent the strap slipping. The belting had been on for twelve years, but it had been renewed in the meantime. It would sometimes get heated. There was not much oil or grease underneath that day.—The Coroner: Have you formed any opinion as to the cause of the fire?-Witness: I do not know whether my opinion would be of any value, sir.—Cor- oner: What is your opinion ? It may help us. —Witness: I think that the fire was caused by the friction. That is my opinion,-Coroner: You think that the friction heated the ma- chinery and caused it to get on fire itness Yes, or that some sparks were caused by the friction, which ignited something or other. Mr F A. Gray, Inspector of Mines, said he visited the pit on Wednesday, having been unable to go there sooner owing to other en- gagements. As to the cause of the outbreak he shared the opinion that it was brought about by friction. If it had been caused by the elec- tric apparatus, the motor would not, have been working when Bye went in. If some one had been standing on the lower platform it would have been possible for the fire to be detected immediately it broke out, and before it had ob- ta ined any Witness thought it. would be advisable to have a man in constant attendance Mr Robert Nelson, electrical expert, said he had also visited the pit, but until coming to the inquest he bad not formed a.n opinion as to the probable cause of the fire. After having heard the evidence of the lad Bye—if they were going to believe the same. and there was no reason why thev should not-he was of opinion that the motor could be exonerated from blame. He had known a ehek belt to get heated before. He thought that the motor should be kept un- der constant supervision. It would bo gun- cult to see the fire when it started owing to the machinery being closed up. t. I The Coroner, addressing the jury, said that the deceased was not killed directly by the fire, but he nevertheless died because of the fire; had it not been for the fire he would have been alive to-day. There was evidence of physical injury, hence hi" instructions to have the body examined by a doctor. They had to go to the fire for the original cause of death. The jury after a brief consultation, returned the following verdict: "We find that Robert Barrow met his by the snapping of the endless ropo caused by the fire at the motor sta- tion, and we further recommend that in future a man be placed in constant charge of the en- gine."

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