Redstone, CO Coal Mine Explosion, Dec 1965


Redstone, Colo. (UPI) -- The bodies of nine miners, killed by an explosion of odorless methane gas, were recovered Wednesday from a coal mine nearly a mile beneath the Colorado Rockies.
The men were trapped by the deadly gas at 11:45 p.m. MST Tuesday, 15 minutes before their work shift was to end. They were working an hour overtime each night this week to make up for time off on New Year's Eve.
The mine had to be pumped free of monoxide gas before the bodies could be recovered. An investigation by state and federal officials began immediately.
In the wake of the accident, United Mineworkers Union officials labeled the Dutch Creek mine "the most dangerous mine in Colorado." But a miner who helped bring out the bodies said safety precautions were "excellent."
The miner, who asked not to be identified, was in another part of the big mine when the explosion occurred.
"We couldn't hear the explosion but they (mine officials) phoned us and told us to come out," he said. "They formed a search party."
"We went in, taking fire extinguishers, first aid equipment, stretchers, shovels -- everything we could carry -- because we thought they were just trapped."
"If they had just been trapped we would have had them."
ROBERT DELANCY of nearby Glenwood Springs, Colo., vice president and legal counsel for Mid-Continent Coal and Coke Co. of Chicago, operator of the mine, said it was impossible to determine the cause of the explosion.
He said static electricity, metal striking rock or
"just about anything" could have caused a spark which touched off the gas.
"We don't have any idea how the accumulation of gas occurred," he said.
Fred Hefferly of Denver, president of District 15 of the United Mineworkers, said he had complained about safety conditions in the mine several times but had been told it was "none of our business" because the miners belonged to the Redstone Miners Union, which he described as "a company union."
But the miner interviewed by United Press International insisted: "I've never worked for a mine as conscientious as this one -- one that tries harder to avoid things like this."
State officials said the mine was the most gaseous coal mine in Colorado and the second most gaseous in the nation. It is located eight miles west of Redstone in west central Colorado, 10,000 feet high in the mountains.
The victims were identified as:
JAMES AMIDAY, 36, the unit foreman.
GLENN ANDERSON, 30, all of Glenwood Springs.
MAGNUS ABELIN, 47, the mine foreman.
EASTON SNOW, 48, all of Carbondale, Colo.
MARVIN CATTOOR, 32, of Silt, Colo.

The Billings Gazette Montana 1965-12-30