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Tennessee Copper Company
Boyd Mine Explosion and Asphyxiations

Ducktown, Polk County, Tennessee
January 5, 1943
No. Killed - 9

USBM Partial Investigation Report  PDF Format

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A sulfide-dust explosion occurred in this mine where instantaneous and 1 to 10 delay detonators were used for blasting.  A dust cloud was created by the blasting of the first shots and ignited by the subsequent shots in a round of 35 holes in the 10 North No. 1 stope.  The main ventilating fan on the surface was stopped by the explosion, and the air currents in the mine reversed themselves.

Forty-two men were in the mine at the time of the explosion, 25 of whom were in the vicinity of the stope.  Owing to the reversal of the air currents, 8 men were killed and 17 were injured by fumes on the level below the stope where normally fresh air entered this section of the mine.  One of the injured died several days later, making a total of 9 killed.

The 17 men who worked at some distance from the 10 North No. 1 stope were able to save themselves by stopping a blower fan and opening a compressed air line near the face of the crosscut in which they were working.  These men were rescued by crews working in fresh air after the mine ventilation was restored.

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

8 Copper Miners Die in Explosion
Charlestown Gazette, West Virginia
January 6, 1943

Ducktown, Tenn., Jan. 5. -- (AP) -- Eight men were killed and the lives of more than two score others endangered here today in a mid-afternoon explosion at the Tennessee Copper Company mine.

General Supt. Lamar Weaver of the mine said a routine detonation of a normal amount of dynamite, set off at 3 p.m., caused a dust explosion, which in turn interrupted the working of an air fan.

Eight bodies had been recovered within a few hours after the explosion, Weaver said, and 14 other miners, suffering from varying degrees of asphyxiation, were under treatment at Copperhill and Ducktown hospitals.  The remainder of the shift of 54 men in the tenth level, where the explosion occurred, escaped serious injury, he said, and there was no indication of further casualties.

Weaver said rescue squads were clearing the tenth level within an hour after the explosion.  The air fan was restored to use to aid the squads in their work.

An unofficial list of dead was:
  • Homer Payne
  • Simon Dunn
  • Thomas Fritts
  • L. G. Spurling
  • W. D. Deal
  • Elmer Pless
  • Ralph Hancock
  • C. B. Helton
All the victims lived in the copper basin which embraces Ducktown, Copperhill and North Fannin County in Georgia.

Note: One of the injured died several days later, making a total of 9 killed.

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