Itmann, WV Coal Mine Explosion, Dec 1972



Mullens (RNS) -- A spokesman at Wyoming General Hospital, quoting Dr. George Fordham of Mullens, who had been at the scene, said the five men listed earlier as unaccounted for in the Saturday explosion at Itmann No. 3 mine were "all dead."
The bodies of the five men were brought to Wyoming General Hospital about 11:45 p.m.
They were identified as:
BILL HATFIELD, 44, of New Richmond.
NATHAN LACY AKERS, 27, Princewick.
LARRY AKERS, 22, of Covel.
TEDDY McMILLION, age and address not immediately available.
DAVID MEADOR, age and address not immediately available.

Itmann (RNS) -- Three of eight miners trapped underground in an explosion at Itmann Coal Co. Mine No. 3 were listed in
"critical" condition at Wyoming General Hospital in nearby Mullens late Saturday night.
Although there were unofficial reports that all eight of the men trapped when the explosion ripped through the mine at 3:40 p.m. had been found, the fate of the other five was indefinite and there were mounting fears the lack of a report on them was ominous.
The three brought out by rescue crews about six hours after the explosion were identified as LARRY BAILEY, 23, of Brenton; DALLAS MULLINS, 32, of Pineville; and JERRY BILLINGS, age and address not available. BAILEY had received emergency treatment and had been admitted to the hospital. MULLINS and BILLINGS were still undergoing emergency treatment at 10:30 p.m.
One of the five missing men was identified as BILL HATFIELD of New Richmond, president of the local union (No. 9690) at Itmann.
Two rescue teams were reported in the area where the three men were found alive, a spokesman for Consolidation Coal Co., parent firm of Itmann Coal, said. At least two other rescue teams, physicians and ambulances were standing by.
"Maybe these men were on the way out. Nobody knows at this point," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the men were located about 6,000 to 7,000 feet from the outside of the drift mine. There is both a drift opening and a shaft opening (through Itmann Mine No. 4) access to the mine and it was unclear which of these the distances referred to. The explosion was said to have occurred about 2,500 feet from the pit opening.
Itmann No. 3 is classified as a "gassy" mine but officials said the origin of the explosion had not been determined definitely. The Consolidation spokesman said miners who escaped the blast reported that there was no fire. The three injured men, however, all suffered extensive burns from the explosion.
The explosion was an extensive one. Rescue teams reportedly were hampered in their efforts to reach the other five men because they had to rebuild airways as they advanced. The explosion had ripped out 25 "stoppers" (cinder block brattices that direct the life-giving air pumped by huge fans into the working areas).
The Saturday explosion was said to have occurred in the "Cabin Creek Four Panel" section of the mine where a continuous miner device was being used. An explosion had occurred in a nearby section where a "German Plow" machine was being used in December, 1971.
The explosion occurred while the day shift was still in the mines. The workers were thought to have been on their way out when it occurred. About 70 miners, on the pit opening side of the explosion, escaped, according to William Starling, vice president of Pocahontas Coal Co., a Consolidation subsidiary, who was at the scene.

Post Herald and Register Beckley West Virginia 1972-12-17