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Black Hawk Coal Company
Black Hawk Mine Explosion

Happy, Perry County, Kentucky
December 7, 1923
No. Killed - 9

Bureau of Mines Investigation Report  (1.7 Mb)  PDF Format
The dead and injured

On December 7, 1923, between 3pm and 4pm, a coal dust explosion occurred in the Black Hawk Mine of the Black Hawk Coal Company, causing the death of nine men and the injury of four others.

Six men were dead when found in the mine, one died enroute to the hospital.  One miner, who had just come out of the mine, and was standing at the drift mouth at the time of the explosion, was blown about 150 feet into a little gulch and was instantly killed.

A small shanty situated about 75 feet from the mouth of the drift and in direct line of the explosion was blown about 25 feet and demolished.

The ventilating fan was slightly unseated and stopped by the force of the explosion, but within a short time was again operating.

May Never Know Mine Blast Cause

Officials Begin Probe of Accident Which Cost Nine Lives - Windy Shot Is Suspected

Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky
December 9, 1923

Louisville, Ky., Dec. 8. - Although inclined to the belief that the explosion Friday at the Black Hawk coal mine In Perry county resulting in the death of nine men was ignition of dust, Kenneth Meguire, Louisville president of the mine company said today that the exact circumstances may never be ascertained

Explosion of dust in the eastern Kentucky coal fields is unusual Meguire said today as there is usually sufficient moisture in the mines there to prevent such occurrences.  He said that only a limited portion of the Black Hawk mine Is dry, the dry territory being comparatively small.

A "windy" shot he said is one which may blow out of a hole.  He said it was possible that fire from a blast may have ignited coal dust and caused the explosion.  The Black Hawk Coal Co. is one of the smaller concerns of the Hazard field and was opened recently.

Investigation Begins

Hazard, Ky., Dec. 8. - Officials of the Black Hawk Coal Co. mine today began an investigation into the cause of Friday's blast, believed to have resulted from a "windy shot igniting the coal dust.

The explosion, occurring 700 feet from the opening, was of such force that the office of John Lewis, a foreman, at the mouth was wrecked.  Lewis was not in his office at the time.  On hearing the report he and Foreman Mullins organized a rescue party and rushed into the mine.

They found the fans had been stopped.  These were put into operation and the rescuers followed the fresh air into the shafts.  The seven dead were found on the floor near each other.  Apparently they died instantaneously.  Two other men died at a hospital today. The six injured were found near the other victims.  They were removed as quickly as possible.  The 13 men were the only ones in the mine.  They were engaged in firing to provide loose coal for Saturday's work.  The crew of miners and loaders, approximately 85 men had put down their tools and left the shaft 45 minutes before the explosion.

The dead men were:
Hogan Slavon, Joe Ivanetz and Jess Patton, all white;
L. W. Hunter, W. H. Harris, Gabe Hendricks, Rich Walker, John Taylor, and Van Williams, Negroes.

The injured are:
W. O. Edwards, Mose Zaron, W. N. Strunk, all white, and Will Hunter, Negro, all of whom are expected to recover.

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