Barnesboro, PA Coal Mine Explosion, Feb 1984


Uniontown -- The risk of another explosion today delayed recovery of the bodies of three miners killed in a blast and fire Thursday in a northeast Indiana County coal mine.
Rescue workers found the bodies about 5 a.m. today in the Pennsylvania Mines Corp's Greenwich Mine, about eight miles northwest of Barnesboro, Cambria County. The blast -- believed to have been caused by a methane gas buildup -- injured 10 others Thursday; four remained hospitalized this morning.
Company officials and federal Mine Safety Investigators planned a 1 p.m. briefing on the progress of the recovery effort and investigation. Neither the company nor miners awaiting word at the scene could estimate when the bodies would be returned to the surface.
Killed in the explosion were:
WALTER DEPLO, 49, Hastings.
GARY MILLER, 31, Glasgow.
About 125 miners were working when what the company described as "an ignition" took place about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. All but three of the miners fled to safety.
Methane gas apparently caused the explosion, according to Frank O'Gorman, a spokesman for the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administartion.
"It would appear to be a methane gas explosion,"
he said. "They were getting about 2.37 million cubic feet of methane every 24 hours, which is quite a lot."
The men were working about a mile from the base of a 430-foot elevator shaft. Company spokesman Barry A. Noventy said the bodies were found in an area where they had been pumping out water from flooded sections that had already been mined out.
The buildup of methane forced rescue workers to break off their search for about 14 hours Thursday. Rescue workers had to install plastic sheets inside a section of the mine to seal out the leaking gas before continuing.
The burned miners were taken to Miners Hospital of Northern Cambria in Spangler where three remained in satisfactory condition this morning. A fourth injured miner from Clearfield was transferred to a Clearfield hospital at his request Thursday.
All four of the men reportedly suffered first and second degree burns of the face, scalp and hands. Hospital Administrator C. Richard Kramer said this morning that the condition of the men had been changed from guarded condition to satisfactory today.
"Some of them had their hair ignited when the explosion took place and they burned their hands when they tried to put their hair out," Kramer reported.
All three of the men at Miners Hospital declined interviews this morning.
Kramer also reported that a mother of one of the miners killed in the explosion was treated briefly at the hospital for shock after the discovery this morning.

Altoona Mirror Pennsylvania 1984-02-17