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Island Creek Coal Company
VA Pocahontas No. 1 Shaft Explosion

Zeni-McKinney-Williams Corporation

Grundy, Buchanan County, Virginia
January 24, 1967
No. Killed - 3

USBM Final Accident Report  (2.0 Mb)  PDF Format

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An explosion occurred about 3:10 p.m., Tuesday, January 24, 1967, in the connecting entry between the supply and air shafts of the Virginia Pocahontas Mine No. 1.  All work in the shafts and underground was being done by the Zeni-McKinney-Williams Corporation, a subsidiary of the Dravo Corporation.  The operation is owned by the Island Creek Coal Company, but the coal company had not assumed control at the time of the explosion.

Two men were killed instantly; one died 14 days later; and four other men underground were hospitalized due to burns and/or injuries; four other employees in the coal entries and five in the skip shaft sump were uninjured.  A surface employee working at the supply shaft on the surface received minor injuries and was hospitalized.  Officials and employees of the contractor with assistance from representatives of Island Creek Coal Company removed the dead and injured to the surface.

Bureau of Mines investigators believe that the explosion originated in the connecting entry between the supply and air shafts where an explosive mixture of methane gas was ignited by an electrical arc or spark when a spring controlled open-type switch in the d.c. circuit was being opened.  Forces of the explosion extended to the surface via the three shafts, the greatest force from the air shaft.

The Deceased:
  • Paul Herndon, 45
  • Paul White, 39
  • Arnold Rowe, 43

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