On this Saturday morning 176 men were in the mine, when an explosion killed 66 by burns and violence and 3 by burns and afterdamp. Two others attempting rescue were asphyxiated, and 1 rescued man died 6 days later from effects of afterdamp. One man was severely burned and injured by the explosion, and two recovery workers were injured by a rock fall.
Twenty-two men overcome by afterdamp were rescued and revived, and 79 men trapped for 5 hours were released uninjured; 2 others escaped unaided. The explosion traversed the 22 south section and a short distance inby and outby 22 south on the main west haulage entries.
A telephone call to the surface from the dispatcher in the mine about 11:10 a.m. reported that smoke and fumes were coming down the main west and driving men from the underground shops and that they could not go through it to the airshaft to see if a motor or transformer was burning.
The assistant superintendent and the mining engineer drove to the airshaft and went down in intake air as the fan was blowing, noting only a burned smell in the air. They encountered burning fragments on the main west, stamped them out, and then found a badly burned man, who had staggered out from the explosion area. Other men from outside the affected section were found and helped to take the injured man outside. Help was called from available outside sources.
A motorman leaving 19 north and south junction with a loaded trip about 11:10 a.m. was enveloped in a cloud of dust and smoke; he put the controller on full and lost consciousness on the way out. At the outside loop the trolley pole flew off, and the trip coasted back into the mine about 900 feet. He was found by the superintendent and the outside foreman, who had gone in the pit mouth with two other men to investigate. The two outside men brought the motorman and trip out and revived him. The officials
remained at a telephone at this point and talked to men at the dispatcher's shanty, who were being rapidly overcome. Some men from the shop and others gathered at the shanty hurried out and made it safely; those remaining, including the two oficials, were killed by the onsweeping smoke and fumes that reached the pit mouth and prevented entrance about 12 noon. The two officials attempted to get out but fell less than 100 feet from the outside. At 12:30 p.m. the air had cleared and their bodies were recovered. Efforts to revive them failed.
Gas-mask and working crews were organized and started an exploration and carrying ventilation into the explosion area. Men in unaffected parts of the mine were located and sent out. Many were unaware of any trouble. A group of 23 men was found overcome by afterdamp and removed. After fresh air was put onto the haulage roads, loading machines were used to clean up falls, continuing until March 28, when the last body was recovered. Apparatus crews were present, but no work was done under apparatus.
The explosion did not extend farther because of considerable expansion at 22 south and main west and because of the incombustible content of road dust in the main west headings.
A shot of pellet black powder in the left rib near the face of 8 west was fired in starting a room neck. An excessive amount of powder was used, and "bugdust" stemming as well as coal dust stirred up by this and preceding rock shot were ignited by the flame. Gas at the face of 7 west, black powder in a storage box on 24 south between 7 and 8 west, and coal dust in all the workings added to the explosion. Rock dust had been applied only on the main west haulageway. No water was used to allay coal dust.
The mine was classed as nongassy, and no flrebosses were employed, although section foremen had flame safety lamps. The company had a commendable safety record and an active safety program, but the latent explosion hazards were not recognized.
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I