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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Public Service Company of Indiana
Viking Mine Explosion

Terra Haute, Indiana
March 2, 1961
No. Killed - 22



From the Google News Archives:
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An air dust explosion, originating near the intersection of 4-North Right "B" and 8-East Right "A" entries in the 4-North section of the northwest angles, killed 22 of 55 workers underground.  The flame area encompassed most of the 4-North section from the track entries in the mains inby 6-East and 7-West, 8-West, 7-East, and the face of the mains.

Forces occurred from the mouth to the faces of 4-North, a distance of 1500 feet, and throughout 6-East, 7-East, 7-West, and 8-West.  All workers in the 4-North section were killed while workers in other areas of the mine escaped uninjured.

The mine was classified gassy.  Evidence showed that the area where the explosion originated had encountered subsidence from the underlying mined out Nos. 3 and 4 coal seams.  This may have increased methane liberation.

Coal spillage and lack of adequate rockdusting in this area added to the severity of the explosion.  The inby door of the airlock 9 in the 6-East was removed during material recovery operations which would short circuit air from the right side of the 4-North working section if the remaining door at 6-East were latched open.  The line curtain in 8-East Right "A" was removed when the continuous miner moved to the 4-North Right "B" entry.  These conditions could have permitted methane to accumulate.

Permissible equipment in the active faces of the explosion area consisted of Jeffrey Controls and Joy Loading machines; nonpermissible face equipment consisted of Joy 6SC shuttle cars.  However, the permissible equipment was not maintained in a permissible manner.

Smoker's articles were listed among the personal effects of many of the victims including the foreman.  Underground employees were not searched for smoker's articles before entering the mine.  Either an electrical arc or open flame could have initiated this explosion.

Source:
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume III



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