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Mine Disasters in the United States

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Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company
Bessie Mine Explosion

Palos, Jefferson County, Alabama
November 4, 1916
No. Killed - 30

Successful Rescue

About 15 hours after the explosion, a trained apparatus crew of 5 men found 3 men at a break in the air line.  The party was then about 1,000 feet from fresh air, and the men were able to proceed to safety with the aid of the apparatus crew.  Thirty men were killed by the explosion, 5 escaped unassisted, and 3 were rescued as noted.  Source document External Link

(From Bureau of Mines Report, by E. B. Sutton)

A night shift of 38 men was in the mine.  The fireboss found gas in four rooms and the entry and aircourse faces off 16 right and told the machinemen not to cut those faces.  Gas had accumulated when a door was propped open.  Machinemen went into the entry to cut a new room neck, igniting the gas with their lights.

The explosion was carried through the mine by coal dust and came out the slope mouth, wrecking and burning the fanhouse and other buildings.  Some stoppings and timbers in the mine were blown down, and the mine was wrecked.  Eight men survived, 5 escaping after 3 hours through an opening distant from the slope. Three others remained at a break in a compressed-air line until a rescue party with breathing apparatus reached them 15 hours after the explosion.

They testified that there was a very strong outward wave, followed by a return wave of equal force.  Coke crusts were found in many parts of the mine on both inby and outby sides of projections.  Closed lights, sprinkling, rock dusting, and split ventilation were recommended.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I

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