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Mine Disasters in the United States

National Fuel Company
National No. 1 Mine Explosion

National, Monongalia County, West Virginia
June 20, 1928
No. Killed 7

Blast Claims Lives of Six; Others Hurt
Charleston Gazette, West Virginia
June 21, 1928

Morgantown, June 20. -- An explosion today claimed the lives of six miners in the National Fuel Company coal mine, south of here, and injured six others so seriously that some may die.  The bodies of five were found after the blast.  The other victim died in a hospital late today.

No official announcement regarding the cause of the blast was made, but it was believed that a pocket of gas exploded when a shot was set off in one of the mine rooms.  The coroner planned to hold an inquest within a few days.

Curtis Stevenson, 23, single, died in a hospital late today.  Hospital attaches said that other fatalities due to injuries, exposure and possible development of pneumonia might swell the death toll.

The bodies taken from the workings were those of:
  • L. S. Stanley, 32, survived by a wife and six children
  • Harry Brock, 49, survived by a wife and eight children
  • W. G. Henderson, 34, survived by a wife
  • Hugh Ankrom, 22, single, of Winterset, Ohio
  • Steve Herrick, 48, single, of Fayette City, Pa.
Among the injured was the night mine foreman, William Kiernan.  He was burned on the head and face and after being given first aid treatment was taken home.  The others injured and who were in the hospital were James King, Roy Batton, Delbert Murphy, Ephraim Hayheart, Haywood Flowers and Floyd Williams.  Ray Batton was the most critically burned.

D. R. Carroll, general manager of the mine, said approximately twenty-two men were in the mine.  The night crew consisted of about 85, and it was believed by company officials that a number of these had left before the explosion.  It was stated that an exact check could not be made today.

Two men walked out of the mine two hours after the explosion and said they had not known the blast had occurred.  They said they smelled smoke and decided to see if anything had happened.

Kiernan, the night foreman, was with a party in which four men were killed.  Rescue crew men said he had made his way to the mine mouth, erecting several brattices to improve the circulation of pure air.

Some miners said the blast happened in No. 5 butt.  Sparks from a cutting machine, or the discharge of a shot was believed to have ignited a pocket of gas.

The mine is owned by the Davis-Elkins interests and was opened in 1918.  Aside from two minor accidents when one man was killed in each case, this was the first fatal mishap since it was opened, Manager Carroll said.

Because the explosion did not extend for a great distance within the workings, it was expected that the damage would be slight and that the mine would resume operation soon.

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