During the early hours of February 16, 1984, three miners worked to install a strainer on a pump for the
D-3 area of the Greenwich Collieries No. 1 Mine.
Meanwhile, another crew of 11 miners worked in the mine's D-5 active working section on a variety of
tasks, including roof bolting, loading and hauling coal, and maintaining equipment.
At about 4:30 a.m. a shuttle car operator warned other miners working on D-5 that he had heard a strange sound, and then rose to leave the mine. But immediately upon standing up, the alarmed shuttle car operator was knocked down and severely burned by an explosion ripping through D-1 , D-3, and D-5. Three other D-5 miners were also severely burned. Nevertheless, the entire D-5 crew survived. All three D-3 miners, however, perished in the explosion.
MSHA investigators determined that the explosion had been preceded by the accumulation of water in
the D-1/D-3 longwall gob areas and bleeder entries.
Together with stoppings constructed in two connecting entries (cut-throughs) between the D-3 and D-5
areas, the accumulated water restricted air traveling inby the No. 6 crosscut in the D-3 area. Because of
this blockage, the volume and velocity of air became inadequate to dilute, render harmless, and carry away flammable and explosive gases that were liberated in the gob areas. Therefore, methane accumulated in the D-3 area between the Nos. 11 and 14 crosscuts.
MSHA investigators concluded that the explosive methane-air mixture was ignited by electrical arcing
created by the normal operation of a nonpermissible, battery-powered locomotive in the D-3 area.
Additional factors contributing to the explosion were failure to conduct a preshift examination on February 16 in the D-3 area, and failure to assign responsibility for maintaining nonproducing areas.
||Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume II