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Mine Disasters in the United States

Red Ash Coal Company
Rush Run - Red Ash Mine Explosions

Red Ash, Fayette County, West Virginia
March 18 & 19, 1905
No. Killed - 24

This Week in West Virginia History

See also:   Red Ash Mine Explosion, Mar. 6, 1900

Rescuer Deaths

Five hours after the mine ceased operations for the day, an explosion occurred in the Rush Run mine, in which 8 men lost their lives.  The explosion extended into the Red Ash mine, where 5 more men lost their lives.  To rescue these men, 11 men entered the Rush Run mine and were lost in a second explosion.  Source document  

(From State inspector's report, 1905, pp. 265-266)

These drift mines are in the FireCreek seam, from 3 to 7 feet in thickness.  Explosive gas has been generated ever since they were opened; in addition, mining has been done by machinery which created more fine dust than in mines where picks are employed.

On Mar. 6, 1900, 46 lives were lost in the Red Ash mine.  At that date these two mines were separate; since then they have been connected.  On March 18, 1905, five hours after the mine had ceased operation for the day, an explosion occurred in the Rush Run mine by which 8 men lost their lives; the explosion extended into the Red Ash mine, where 5 more men lost their lives.

To rescue these men, 11 men entered the Rush Run mine and were lost in a second explosion.  The first explosion resulted from blasting or from loose explosives on the track run over by a car, causing a widespread dust explosion.

The second occurred when gas accumulated by derangement of the ventilation was ignited by open lights of the rescue party.

These mines were regularly inspected and found apparently safe under all ordinary conditions.  Every requirement of the Mining Laws was being observed.

There are hundreds of our miners and bosses who cannot be induced to believe that explosions can be brought about by dust.  Any method by which this danger could be demonstrated on a small scale at a public exhibition among our mining people, would undoubtedly be most effective education.

The chief mine inspector, James W. Paul (later employed by the Federal Bureau of Mines), an able engineer with keen powers of observation and analysis, included a number of sound conclusions and recommendations on explosion hazards in his published report for the year ended June 30, 1905.

The investigations and experiences of his department with mine explosions in West Virginia showed that the mining laws and even nominally good safety practices of that day did not serve to prevent mine explosions under conditions often occurring in the mines.

Among the causes and remedies discussed were:
  • The changing conditions at the mines have revolutionized the character of labor employed by reason of the introduction of machinery to supplant manual labor and animals.

  • Inexperienced men are employed who know practically nothing about the dangers within a mine and are unable to exercise the care essential to their own safety.  Any safeguard will have to operate through those having immediate supervision of the employee.

  • A remedy presents itself in requiring all mine bosses and firebosses to have a State license.  Where inspectors find the boss permitting any dangerous practices, his license should be revoked.

  • All powder carried into the mines shall be in cans, not to exceed 5 pounds.

  • Where breakthroughs in me rooms are not closed as additional breakthroughs are made, place "checks" across the entry to divert the current of air into the rooms and if ventilation is not sufficient place brattices in the breakthroughs.

  • Remove dust from the mine, and make the dry parts wet by spraying systematically and regularly.

  • All coal operators should have on hand a safety lamp, kept in good order.

The dead, 1st explosion Rush Run:

Andrew Wear, married
Charles Jones, married
Hally Jarrett
Percy Wood, colored.
Clarence Allen, colored

Dead of Red Ash:

Joe Kioski
Martin Kioski
Charles Cruger
Clarence Jackson, colored
Killed by 2nd explosion:

Crockett Hutchinson, machine boss
Thomas Bannister, fire boss
E. W. Henson, married
Will Coon
Peter Hutchinson
Norman Hutchinson
James Gwinn
Charles Gwinn
Hence Moseley
Earnest Philips
George Hopkins
Thomas Allen, colored
Clay Mosely, colored
Randolph Washington, colored

Additional Resources: I II  

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