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20 are Killed by Mine Blast at Scott’s Run
Charleston Gazette, West Virginia
July 10, 1942
Morgantown, July 9. -- (AP) -- An official of the Pursglove Coal Mining Company reported late tonight that 20 miners died in an explosion in the concern's No. 2 mine on Scott's Run.
Joseph Pursglove, who directed rescue operations for the company, issued the statement giving the definite total of victims almost seven hours after the blast trapped two crews of miners four and a half miles underground.
Pursglove said the bodies of the victims would be brought to the surface in the next few hours and taken to a Morgantown mortuary for identification by relatives.
Eighteen of the dead had been tentatively identified earlier.
Rescue efforts had been hampered by fire and it was hours before the center of the explosion area could be reached.
About 70 of the mine's 300 employees were inside at the time of the blast. Twenty-six were checked off as safe, but company officials said at least two dozen, and possibly more, went back to aid in rescue work without reporting.
The company announced tonight a tentative list of 18 men who were believed trapped, and the wife of another man said she had determined he was still in the mine.
At 10:30 p.m. a crew sent out word it was about 600 feet from the blast locale and hoped to reach it by midnight.
The tentative list of the deceased:
First reports were that fire was retarding advance but crews said late tonight that in spite of the heat they were making fair headway.
Those were the first names reported and at company offices it was said a check was proceeding slowly.
The Pursglove No. 2 mine about a year ago was given a U. S. Bureau of Mines safety award for producing more than 3,000,000 tons of coal without a fatal accident.
Chester Lucas, 28-year-old cutter, who survived the blast along with other members of his crew, said the explosion occurred about four and one-half miles from the main entry.
At Pittsburgh, the U.S. Bureau of Mines field office said its reports indicated 20 men were trapped by the explosion and that two mine inspectors were enroute from Pittsburgh to the scene. Other inspectors were dispatched from Fairmont, and Waynesburg, Pa.
Lucas, working about two miles from the blast center, said he felt the concussion and the "dust began to roll" through the mine. He added that he and the others working in the area ran at once to the entry.
Less than three miles from the Christopher coal company mine where 56 men lost their lives on May 12, the Pursglove operation is one of the newer mines in the Scott's Run field in northern West Virginia near the Pennsylvania line.
Rescue workers sent back word that fire had broken out in the mine "and the trapped men are behind the fire." The extent of the blaze and the extent to which it jeopardized the miners were undetermined.
A call went out for additional rescue crews from nearby mines in Monongalia and Merion Counties.
At Charleston, the state mines department reported that all available inspectors and rescue crews in the Morgantown area had been ordered to the scene.
Approximately 300 men are employed at the operation and "a third" of this number were due to report for work on the late afternoon shift.
During 1941 the mine produced 34,390 tons of coal, with an average daily output of 287 tons.
Pursglove No. 2 mines coal from the Sewickley seam and veteran employees expressed the opinion it was not much over four feet thick at the point the men were caught.
"That makes it bad for the fellows back there, what with the fire and that low coal," one begrimed miner remarked as he waited his turn to be called to rescue duty.
The mine is about halfway up Scott's Run, off the right of the main highway and a short distance up a small valley.
The rescue crews decided that the missing miners actually were trapped somewhere under the state of Pennsylvania since the operation is close to the state line.
A big crowd, including in its number the wives and children of the trapped men, formed in the mud around the entry within a few minutes after word came out that "something is wrong" inside.
Most of them stood silently, but listening eagerly for every scrap of news which came out. Most of them were grouped about the entry and the mine shop, or strung out along the track which leads to the tipple a half mile away.
The blast marked the third mine disaster in the state since May. An inquest into the May 12 blast at Osage was concluded yesterday with a coroner's jury holding that the cause of the deaths of 56 men was unknown.
On May 18, less than a week after the Osage blast, five men were killed in an explosion in the Hitchman Coal and Coke company mine at Benwood near Wheeling.
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