The mine was classified non-gassy by the Tennessee Division of Mines. Pre-shift, on-shift, and weekly examinations for gas and other hazards were not made. No flame safety lamps were available at the mine.
The fan was started each morning shortly before the men entered the mine and stopped when the shift was completed. This fan was not in operation between the completion of the shift on Friday and 6:40 a.m. Monday; the explosion occurred at approximately 7:30 a.m. Eight of the eleven stoppings in the main entries were constructed of brattice cloth and three were open. There was also a 32-inch opening in one of the permanent stoppings 550 feet outby the face of the entries.
Methane gas, believed to have been liberated from a faulted or "pinched" zone occurring in the room adjacent to the active working area accumulated during the period the mine fan was down. When the fan was started, this gas migrated through the brattice cloth stoppings and/or open crosscuts to the haulage road where it was ignited by arcing when the trolley wheel of the locomotive left the wire or by workers smoking. All nine men underground died of burns or toxic gas fumes resulting from the gas and dust explosion.
||Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume II