Pursglove No. 2 Mine Explosion

Morgantown Post
July 11, 1942

Mine Officials Begin Hunt For Disaster Clues

Inspection Party Headed by Rinehart Enters Workings This Morning

Federal and State inspectors and company officials this morning entered the Pursglove No. 2 mine to start an investigation into the explosion that took the lives of 20 miners later Thursday afternoon.

Sixteen persons, including N. P. Rinehart, chief of the State Mines Department, David Pursglove, and Samuel Pursglove 3rd were in the inspection party. They are expected to remain in the mine until 2 or 3 o'clock this afternoon.

Officials have made no statements concerning the possibility of sabotage as a motive, or any other reasons for the explosion. A conference will be held this afternoon after the officials come out of the mine, and the investigation will be continued until some decision has been reached.

Little actual damage was done to the mine itself by the blast, according to Peter McLinden, inspector- at-large for the northern section of West Virginia. The blast centered in an area of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 feet in diameter, he said.

The 20 men, who apparently were killed instantly, were described as being two loading machine crews. The had just begun work on the night shift when the blast occurred, it was determined from the position of the bodies of the victims and their tools and machines. Of the 300 men employed at the mine, a few more than 70 were in the mine at the time of the explosion.

Company officials revealed that the explosion center was No. 20 and No. 24 south face headings about four and a half miles back in the workings.

Governor M. M. Neely indicated yesterday that he would come here today to extend his personal condolences to families of the victims, but he had not arrived at 11 o'clock this morning.

Magistrate J. B. Riffle announced the names of the coroner's jury which will start an immediate investigation as follows; John Smith, Daniel Prager, Arlie Fay, C. L. Scott, R. C. Horner, and Delbert Sheets.

Bodies of the men killed in the explosion were removed from the mine yesterday afternoon and taken to the Davidson Funeral Home. All were identified without difficulty. Eighty-eight dependents were left by the 20 men who were killed.

Relatives who have no other way of reaching the mine office at Pursglove to file claims will be transported by the company. Members of the victims' families who will attend funerals on Monday may file claims on Tuesday, officials said.

Miners' Relief Fund Is Sought

Contributions of $2,700 From Coal Companies Are Announced

Contributions of $2,700 were reported today to a disaster relief fund being raised for distribution among the dependents of the 20 miners who lost their lives in the Pursglove No. 2 mine explosion.

The Pursglove Coal Mining Company made a contribution of $2,000 to start the fund. Frank E. Christopher, acting for the Christopher mining interests, immediately added $500, and R. M. Davis, acting for the Davis-Wilson and Louise companies, added $200.

A committee to collect and distribute the relief fund was organized last night with Patrick Madden, president of the United Mine Workers local at Pursglove No. 2, as chairman and Benjamin G. Reeder as treasurer.

Other committee members are Joseph H. Stewart, representing the Pursglove company; W. A. Anderson, vice-president of the Pursglove local; Paul H. Sommer, disaster relief chairman of the Red Cross; Ernest Richards, president of the County Industrial Union Council; Nathan Kaufman, representing Morgantown business men, and John Stanton and Brooks Cottle, representing the local newspapers.

Contributions may be mailed to Mr. Reeder at 170 Chancery Row, Morgantown, or left at the local banks where collection booths will be maintained by the Service League.

Announcements of the campaign will be made in local churches tomorrow.

A similar fund was raised for the dependents of the 56 miners who lost their lives in the May 12 explosion in the nearby Osage mine of the Christopher company.


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