united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Island Creek Coal Company Bradshaw No. 6 Mine Explosion
Bradshaw, West Virginia
September 28, 1964
No. Killed – 3
Three Miners Killed in Worked-Out Area of Bradshaw Mine
Raleigh Register, Beckley, West Virginia
September 29, 1964
Bradshaw (UPI) -- Mine inspectors today began investigating the source of gas and what caused it to ignite, producing a flash fire which killed three miners Monday in the Bradshaw No. 6 mine of Island Creek Coal Company.
The fate of the men was unknown for seven hours after they failed to report to the lamp house for a routine "checking in and out" system at the end of their shift at 8 a.m.
The men had been assigned to remove equipment from a worked-out area of the mine about a mile away from where 22 other employees were mining coal.
Rescue efforts were organized when the three failed to report and other members of the midnight shift who went in search of their fellow workers found evidence of some type of accident at the mouth of the abandoned section.
Rescuers entered the area cautiously, sometimes crawling through passageways only 40 inches high.
They discovered the bodies of Pete Hagerman, 38, a section foreman, and trackmen Harry Hillyer, 48, and Nash Rife, 53, all of the Bradshaw area, about 3 p.m.
News that the men were dead however, did not reach the outside until a half hour later.
The last man to see them alive was Raymond Pruitt, who said he left them about 6:30 a.m.
Island Creek Vice President, C. N. Camicia, said the bodies showed signs of being burned.
The fire apparently broke out when the gas ignited, but it was not known what triggered the ignition.
Camicia said the company "had no previous problem with gas at this mine."
Federal and state mine inspectors and state Mines Chief Wilbur Eigenbrod, who rushed to the scene of the accident to aid in rescue operations, will conduct the investigation.