Bishop, VA Explosion In Coal Mine, Oct 1958
22 TRAPPED AS EXPLOSION SHAKES BISHOP MINE.
166 ESCAPE UNHURT; CONDITION OF MEN IN PIT IS UNKNOWN.
Bishop, Va. (AP) -- An explosion at 7:50 a.m. today shook the Bishop mine on the Virginia-West Virginia border, where 37 miners were killed in a blast in February 1957.
A. V. SPROLES, president of the Pocahontas Fuel Co. confirmed there is "trouble in one section of the Bishop mine." He did not say what section was involved.
Later, a company spokesman said 188 men were at work in the mine. All but the 22 trapped miners emerged without injury, according to information received by the West Virginia mines director's office at Charleston.
The mine entry is in Virginia although most of the underground diggins are on the West Virginia side. Virginia state mining officials said the mine is considered a West Virginia operation.
The 1957 Bishop explosion came at 1:55 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4. Rescuers found the first bodies a little more than an hour later.
West Virginia Mines director CRAWFORD WILSON left immediately with several aides upon receiving first word of the new explosion.
Meanwhile in Washington, the Bureau of Mines was informed that "something had happened" which probably affected three sections of the mine.
JAMES WESTFIELD, assistant director for health and safety, said he had not been informed there had been an explosion.
"There were probably three sectionis affected," WESTFIELD said.
"The men on two sections have been contacted and are barricaded and okay."
"There is one section we were told they have been unable to contact.
"Normally there are 12 to 15 men in a section."
WESTFIELD said he probably would go to Bishop later in the day after he is able to contact Bureau Director MARLING J. ANKENY who left this morning for a week's trip.
Mine officials at Bishop said the extent of the damage or the condition of the trapped men could not be determined immediately.
The trouble disrupted communications to the section.
ROLAND C. LUTHER, vice president of the company, said the "distrubance" apparently was not very powerful because it was hardly felt at the elevator shaft a little more than a mile from the scene.
The Raleigh Register Beckley West Virginia 1958-10-27
MISPLACED DYNAMITE CHARGE IS BLAMED IN BISHOP DISASTER.
Bishop, Va. (AP) -- A Pocahontas Fuel Co. official said today a misplaced dynamite charge was the probable cause of Monday's blast that took the lives of 22 coal miners in the company's Bishop mine.
The official who declined to be identified, was in the mine with rescue parties for a considerable time. He said the physical situation in the blast section and the way the bodies were found indicated the cause.
The dynamite normally is placed fully into the face of the coal. If a portion of the charge sticks out beyond the face, he explained, powder is likely to be blown into the air and gas ignited.
Some of the 166 weary miners who survived the explosion said they were certain investigators would find human error was responsible. The explosion occurred in the same section of the Bishop mine where 37 miners met death in a gas blast Feb. 4, 1957.
The unidentified miners told a reporter that in their opinion a charge of improperly-inserted dynamite set off the blast.
Their comments came as a five man team of federal and West Virginia mine authorities descended into the mine for an official investigation.
And in a company office near the top of the mine's shaft, government, company and union officials conferred behind locked doors.
Authorities said the 22 victims would be buried individually. Mass burials for mine disaster victims are not customary in this section of the country, they explained.
CRAWFORD WILSON, chief of the West Virginia Bureau of Mines, called it a shocking disaster and said: "We will uncover the cause."
A formal public hearing will get under way Wednesday.
Raleigh Register Beckley West Virginia 1958-10-28