Blakeburn, BC Coal Mine Explosion, Aug 1930
HOPE FOR TRAPPED MINERS FADES.
THIRD BODY TAKEN FROM SHAFT, BURNED BEYOND RECOGNITION.
BLAKEBURN MINE RESCUERS, WORKING IN FACE OF DEADLY MONOXIDE GAS, MAKE PROGRESS -- RECOVERY OF BODY OF HARRY EDWARDS LEAVES LITTLE DOUBT 45 REMAINING TRAPPED MINERS ARE DEAD.
Pithead, Blakeburn, B.C., Aug. 15 -- Burned almost beyond recognition the body of HARRY EDWARDS, one of the victims of the explosion in the Blakeburn mine Wednesday night, was recovered by rescuers this morning at the end of the main tunnel of the mine, at the 1,500-foot level.
Death had been caused by concussion, investigation revealed. EDWARDS was a driver and near his body was found his horse which had also been killed and burned. EDWARDS' body is the third to be recovered leaving fifty-five as yet unlocated.
Rescue squads are expecting momentarily to find the body of JOSIAH BRADBURY of Vancouver, working mate of EDWARDS. Twenty-four of the entombed men were working at a distance of from one and one-half to two miles from the pithead, and it is believed that a considerable time will elapse before they can be reached.
Efforts of the rescue workers had enabled them to penetrate 3,000 feet into the main tunnel this morning, and it was here that EDWARDS' body was found.
At noon, the miners had been entombed for more than forty-two hours. Hope that any of them might be alive had been given up. THey had been in gas-filled air, seepage from which killed a canary this morning a thousand feet nearer the pit mouth. In the places where the victims must have been in darkness for that period, they have no fit water to drink, and their food was only what was in their tins as they entered the workings at four o'clock Wednesday afternoon.
Two hundred rescue workers know this, and yet for a day and a half they have not let up an iota in their fight.
Princeton, B.C., Aug. 15. -- (CP) -- Despair hangs like a pall today over the stricken mining town of Coalmont, B.C. a few miles away. Down in the depths of the Blakeburn coal mine, in the gas filled confinement of a caved in shaft, 46 miners are trapped. Rescue crews, dog tired from a day and a half of effort to pierce through to the interior, are still toiling, but almost hopelessly. Wives, mothers, children, sweethearts of the locked in miners hold but a slender hope for the safety of their loved ones. They know that the poisoned air of the mineshaft has prostrated more than thirty of the rescuers. THey realize that in the dark interior of the coal slopes the air is far less pure. They wait for the report that the trapped men have been reached -- but they cannot believe that they will be brought out alive. Eighteen of the buried men are married -- one has a wife and seven children.
Equipped with masks and the latest safety devices, the rescue crews have struggled along two-thirds of the mines 3500-foot shaft. But the last portion is the hardest task. Relief workers are being rushed in for short shifts, but in the close air of the coal passages, worker after worker is hurried back to the pithead semi-conscious. The entombed miners are believed to be nearly 1800 feet down a 20-degree slope, starting more than 1500 feet from the entrance to the haulage tunnel.
Report of a formal inquest into the deaths of two men whose bodies have been recovered indicated that the fatalities had resulted from "after damp" -- a treacherous gaseous condition, following an explosion. The statement left little hope for the afternoon shift, of whom only one escaped, JOHN PARCHELLE, who was released by the rescue crews near the mine entry. C. A. SMITH, 40, and ALBERT COLE, 19, are the two men whose bodies have been removed from the shaft.
Though still clinging desperately to the hope that a miracle may have been performed, officials admit that nothing but a miracle could save the forty-seven men which in official check up showed had taken lamps to enter No. 4 tunnel Wednesday
afternoon. The latest word was that there might be an important announcement as regards localing the lost men early Friday. Eighteen of the forty-nine men were married. There were three sets of brothers.
HARRY VATON, who was on shift, had a miraculous escape. His infant son was critically ill and he was called from the mine only an hour before the disaster. J. PORCHELLA, who was the only man in the slope to find his way out, happened to be well up and heard the explosion coming. He dropped to the ground but so stunned was he that he started to crawl the wrong way but discovered his error and hastened out. He suffered a severe scalp wound. The watch of C. A. SMITH was found on a nail on a pillar near the hoist -- the glass shattered but still going about 8:30 yesterday morning.
No effort is being spared. All the mine rescue apparatus in the district is in Blakeburn service and work is now proceeding on a definite plan. Doctors and nurses are in attention to care for hysterical women and for men who are overcome by gas fumes.
Both the compressor and fan are working at capacity, the fan was blown out several minutes by the explosion, the force of which was terrific.
Veteran inspector J. G. BIGGS, who was himself badly gassed in a six-hour session at the face Wednesday night declares the explosion is the worst he has seen in forty years experience
Lethbridge Herald Alberta 1930-08-15
List of casualties taken from the memorial
CLIFFORD A. SMITH.
C. H. SMITH.
JOHN CONNELL SMITH.