Redstone, CO Coal Mine Explosion, Apr 1981
ALL 15 DEAD IN COLORADO MINE.
Redstone, Colo. (UPI) -- The bodies of 15 miners killed in an explosion deep inside a gassy Colorado coal mine were recovered Friday.
Rescue teams picked their way through piles of rubble in the mine tunnel to find nine of the bodies about 32 hours after a pocket of methane exploded Wednesday.
Five more bodies were found about three hours later, and the last victim was discovered Friday morning.
Federal officials vowed a "top to bottom" probe of the accident, the worst at the mine since a 1965 explosion killed nine miners.
The victims were found about 7,200 feet inside the sloping mine tunnel, which was described by one mine inspector as "one of the gassiest mines"
in the nation. The explosion apparently was triggered when the miners hit a pocket of methane gas, a volatile hydrocarbon associated with coal.
Miners say that being near a methane explosion would be like being in an exploding shotgun barrel.
One of the survivors, DAVID CHIARELLO, described the blast as a "little hurricane."
"The investigation, especially with the loss of life, will be from top to bottom," said federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesman Rick Kulczewski.
Kulczewski said it was too early to tell if something could have been done to prevent the explosion.
KELLY GREENE, 25, of New Castle.
KYLE COOK, 33, Silt.
RICHARD LINCOLN, 22, Glenwood Springs.
LOREN MEAD, 35, Rifle.
RONALD PATCH, 34, Carbondale.
TERRY LUCERO, 28, Glenwood Springs.
GLEN SHARP, 31, El Jebel.
J. R. AYALA, 40, Carbondale.
JOHN RHODES, 29, Carbondale.
ROBERT RAGLE, 29, New Castle.
THOMAS VETTER, 24. Glenwood Springs.
WILLIAM E. GUTHERIE, 32, Glenwood Springs.
DANIEL LITWILLER, 21, Glenwood Springs.
HUGH W. PIERCE, JR., 20, Glenwood Springs.
BRETT TUCKER, 30, Carbondale.
It had been a long vigil for the families, who huddled by a fire built in a rusty steel drum on the road to the mine. They held out hope that the men were alive until the bodies were found.
The rescue teams, working in four-hour shifts of six men each, were delayed in getting to the victims because they had to pick their way through rubble, restore the mine's ventilation system and pump icy mountain water out of the tunnel.
Pacific Stars & Stripes Japan 1981-04-19