Virginia, MN Lightning Causes Mine Explosion, June 1918
TWENTY MEN BURIED WHEN FLASH SETS OFF CHARGES.
NINE TONS HIGH EXPLOSIVE PREMATURELY FIRED BY LIGHTNING.
WHOLE RIM OF OPEN PIT FALLS ON MEN.
WORST ACCIDENT IN HISTORY OF MESABA RANGE; ONLY ONE BODY RECOVERED SO FAR.
Virginia, Minn., June 27. -- Lightning striking wires connecting dynamite blasts all ready to be set off in the Elivier open pit mine of the M. A. Hanna Co., two miles west of Virginia today, caused the worst mine accident in the history of the Mesaba range. At least twenty men were buried alive. There were 40 men working and some were badly injured. The men are foreigners.
Only one body, that of ANDREW BRONIEU, has been recovered. Steam shovel and rescue crews are at work and it is expected bodies will be rapidly uncovered.
It is said at least nine tons of dynamite went off, some in holes and some in boxes. Several tons of powder nearby was not set off.
The lightning struck the connecting wires running into the different drifts, where shots were ready to be set off when the blast came. The whole rim of the pit seemed to lift up and settle down in a great mass of rocks and earth, burying the men who were yet tinkering with the dynamite.
At 8 o'clock tonight only one body had been removed from the wreck and it is still impossible to determine how great the loss of life has been. Three men have been removed alive, but unconscious, while communications have been made with three men buried in the cave. It is believed others will be found alive far back under the side of the mine where their exit has been cut off -- the shelving -- edge saving their lives.
Three levels of the property were caved by the explosion, the many tons of powder wrecking the timbers, and shaking out supports, allowing the thousands of tons to cave to the bottom of the open pit mine. Among the men caught were outside workers who had entered the third level to escape a hard rain storm.
Eau Claire Leader Wisconsin 1918-06-28
The following fourteen are known to be buried in the mine and dead: