Livermore, CA Mitchell Water System Tunnel, July 1930

NEW HETCHY BLAST KILLS 12.

MITCHELL TUNNEL AT LIVERMORE IS ROCKED BY EXPLOSION OF GAS; TEN OTHERS ARE SAVED BY FLIGHT.

INVESTIGATIONS BEGUN TO DETERMINE ADEQUACY OF SAFETY PRECAUTIONS; RESCUERS WORK FRANTICALLY IN ATTEMPTS TO SAVE VICTIMS; MOST BELIEVED TO HAVE DIED INSTANTLY, OTHERS SUCCUMB TO FUMES.

Livermore, July 17. (UP) -- Twelve miners were killed early today in Mitchell tunnel 25 miles from here as the second subterranean blast within five weeks rocked the property of the San Francisco Hetch Hetchy water system.
The explosion, believed to have been caused by the chance ignition of accumulated gas occurred at a depth of 800 feet as the men were working near the center of the mile-long tunnel.
From meagre reports it was believed identical in origin with the blast which took the lives of seven men last month in the Calaveras tunnel a few miles away. The blast occurred without warning a short time after the early-morning shift had gone to work.
As masked rescue workers emerged from the tunnel's mouth with bodies of the victims, physicians and orderlies from Livermore worked feverishly with first-aid efforts. Those not killed outright by the force of the explosion succumbed to the poisonous fumes which came in the wake.
Ten other miners, at work near the west entrance, heard the muffled sound of the blast and ran outdoors to safety ahead of the onrush of gas. The entire crew of 22 men working in the tunnel at the time were believed accounted for.
The known dead are:
JOHN McNICHOLS, 42, Los Angeles.
J. C. MAYBIN, 21, Sonora.
E. R. CAVANAUGH, 30, Seattle.
TONY REDKA, 44, no address.
N. YAWORSKI, 24, Canada.
L. R. CROWLEY, 32, Oakland, married.
A. W. DeFOLAY, Tracy, married.
C. URICH, Loveland, Colorado.
J. M. McMASER, Sonora, married.
G. NATIONS, 27, address unknown.
J. COLER, 28, Whittier.
Missing, not know certainly whether he was at work at the time, is PAT GALLAGHER, Wellesley, Mass.
Rescue attempts were abandoned for a time after rescue workers had removed the bodies of McNICHOLS and MAYBIN until ventilation should have been restored.
Hope that the remaining miners might be found after the gas had been cleared away was abandoned when workers told of seeing bodies sprawled about the tunnel for a distance of about 100 feet, all badly burned.
Attempts to restore enough ventilation to permit reentry on the part of rescue crews were being supervised by officials of the state industrial accident commission, the United States bureau of mines and other agencies.
Investigation by the state industrial accident commission developed a belief that the explosion was caused by a seepage of methane gas, a colorless, odorless vapor from decaying vegetable matter, small quantities of which are always to be found in excavations. The presence of the gas in a sizeable quantity, however, should have been detected by the miners safety lamps officials said.
Three officials and several semi-official agencies were conducting further investigations to determine whether reasonable precautions were taken by shift bosses before the men entered the tunnel.

The Hayward Review California 1930-07-17