McClure, VA Coal Mine Explosion, June 1983


McClure, Va. (AP) -- A mine explosion in southwestern Virginia killed seven coal miners, including a woman and a man three days from retirement, and injured three others, officials of the Clinchfield Coal Co. said Wednesday.
"Approximately 84" mine workers were underground at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday when the blast occurred at the company's McClure No. 1 mine in Dickenson County, company spokeswoman Susan Copeland said.
"Of the 84, 74 came to the surface uninjured," she said.
Ten employees were working in the accident area at the time of the explosion, she said. Three, suffering burns, were taken to hospitals and seven were killed.
Ms. Copeland said she had no information on how the blast occurred.
"Everyone apparently has been removed from the mine," Ms. Copeland said. The mine is located in the heart of Virginia's coal country about 20 miles east of the Kentucky border.
Ms. Copeland identified the dead as:
F. C. RINER, 58, a section foreman, of Dante.
ERNEST A. HALL, 30, a foreman, from Castlewood.
J. FRENCH COVEY, 45, of Clintwood.
LUTHER McCOY, 37, of Nora.
DALE STAMPER, JR., 56, of Lebanon.
EUGENE W. MEADE, 26, of Coeburn.
MARY KAY "KAT" COUNTS, 51, of Nora.
Women still form a very small percentage of the work force in American coal mines.
The injured were identified as:
EMMERY HOWARD, 30, of Cleveland.
HAROLD J. BOYD, 25, of Dante.
MILES W. SUTHERLAND, 51, of Castlewood.
RINER'S family was told initially that he had been in an accident, said his daughter, Connie Riner, but they did not learn of his death "until one of my brothers and his wife came over" Wednesday morning.
"Friday night would have been his last night" before retirement, Miss Riner said. She said her father had worked for the company since May 1949.
Clinchfield Coal is a subsidiary of the Pittston Group and is the largest coal mining operation in Virginia.

Waterloo Courier Iowa 1983-06-22