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Mine Disasters in
the United States

Pocahontas Fuel Company
Bishop No. 34 Mine Explosion

Bishop, Virginia
October 27, 1958
No. Killed - 22

See also:   Bishop No. 34 Mine Explosion, Feb. 4, 1957

From the Google News Archives:
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Successful Rescue

An explosion occurred in this mine and resulted in the death of 22 miners.  Thirty-seven others erected barricades and remained behind them until they were rescued.

From Bureau of Mines report by W. R. Park, E. M. Lewis, G. Noe, and E. Menta

Shots fired at the face of No. 6 place, 2 Left off Pine Ridge section, blasted through to No. 5 place (No. 3 Drainway entry) and ignited an explosive mixture of methane and air at 8:28 a.m., resulting in the death of 22 men.

None of the other 185 men in the mine at the time of the explosion was injured, however, 37 men in the inby Pine Ridge left and Pine Ridge main sections observed forces, dust, and fumes from the explosion enter their working areas.  These men erected barricades and remained behind the barricades until rescued.  The men in the Pine Ridge main section were removed from behind the barricade at about 9:35 a.m. and the men in the Pine Ridge left section were removed from behind the barricade at 10:15 a.m. on the day of the explosion.

The disaster resulted from the ignition of a large quantity of methane that was liberated during blasting operations in No. 5 working place (No. 3 Drainway entry).  The ignition occurred when one or more shots from the face of No. 6 entry of 2 Left entries blasted through into No. 3 Drainway entry, where the face had been blasted shortly before.

The victims of the explosion, all found within 875 feet of the faces of 2 Left section, were burned severely.

Coal dust in the areas inby the mine-car loading point entered into the explosion and aided in its propagation.

The 2 Left off Pine Ridge Left section (explosion area) consisted of a set of 6 entries turned off pine Ridge Left entries and driven a distance of about 2,900 feet.  Until shortly before the disaster, the 6 entries were ventilated with intake air coursed through the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 (center) entries, split right and left near the faces, and returned through Nos. 1, 2, and 6 entries.

During a Federal ventilation survey of the mine in September 1958, 49,000 cfm of intake air was coursed through the 3 center entries; 28,000 and 21,000 cfm of air was measured in the immediate returns, Nos. 1 and 6 entries respectively.

After the ventilation survey was completed, a new set of entries (Drainway entries) was turned right off 2 Left entries, and the 2 Left entries and the Drainway entries were developed simultaneously with one set of face equipment and one loading ramp.  The turning and driving of the Drainway entries with the 2 Left entries required ventilation changes in the immediate face regions.  Previous to turning the Drainway entries, 3 entries left and 3 entries right of 2 Left were ventilated with separate splits of air; whereas on the day of the explosion, the left split of air ventilated 5 entry faces, and the right split of air was coursed past 4 additional entry faces.

Providing adequate ventilation for the additional entries necessitated the use of additional check curtains and line brattice, which in turn increased the hazards of air leakage and ventilation interruptions.

The diluting and quenching effect of the rock dust applied was the principle factor in preventing further spread of this explosion.  Other factors that helped limit the explosion were the cooling effect of the extensive rib, roof, and floor surfaces of the numerous entries in the path of the explosion and ample open areas for expansion of forces.

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


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