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Mine Disasters in
the United States

Castle Gate No. 2 Mine Explosions

Castle Gate, Utah
March 8, 1924
No. Killed - 172

Rescuer Death

Before experienced apparatus men arrived, a member of a crew from a neighboring mine was killed by inhaling carbon monoxide due to removing his nose clip in some way.

(From Bureau of Mines report, by D. Harrington, B. W. Dyer, and H. E. Munn)

On that morning 171 men were in the mine, including the foreman and safety inspector.  The three firebosses had reported no gas and had gone back in after the shift went on at 7:30 a.m.  At 8:20 a.m. there were the sound and shock of a heavy explosion, followed a minute or so later by a second weaker puff.

About 20 minutes later a third and more violent explosion occurred.  The first and third explosions blew debris and smoke from the mine portal and the explosion doors at the fan opening.  The explosions inside the mine were extremely violent and reached all parts of the mine.  The explosion was the most widespread as well as the most violent in the experience of the investigators.

The bodies of many victims were dismembered.  Cars, concrete stoppings and overcasts were totally wrecked and destroyed, and all loose material was torn from the ribs, although track and pipelines on the floor were hardly disturbed.

The explosion started as a methane ignition in a room where a fireboss had started to more a body of gas in a pothole in the roof, left from shooting down top coal the previous night.  He placed his cap and carbide light on the floor between the face and the pile of coal.  He was using the water hose to brush the gas from the hole.  His small, keylocked flame safety lamp was extinguished, and since the igniter had been plugged he disassembled it and took it to his cap lamp to relight.  In doing so the gas was ignited, which communicated to stirred-up coal dust, and gas from other pot holes and standing in marked-out rooms.

Fires were set, and the following explosions occurred when air movements or roof falls pushed gas and dust over them.  The fan was restarted soon after the explosion, and rescue efforts were organized and underway by afternoon.  Before experienced apparatus men arrived a member of a crew from a neighboring mine was killed by inhaling carbon monoxide due to removing his nose clip in some way.

Later 3 shifts of 8 crews worked 8 days exploring the mine, extinguishing fires, and recovering bodies.  The firebosses ignored gas in "potholes" in reporting the mine clear.  Sprinkling, although carefully and thoroughly done, did not halt the propagation of the explosion.

Magnetic locked safety lamps and rock dusting were recommended and to some extent adopted, together with more careful gas examinations.  The use of rock dust followed a long period of study.

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


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