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Explosion At West Virginia Mine; Two Killed, 10 Injured

March 19, 1992

BLACKSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) _ An explosion today at an idle Monongalia County coal mine killed two workers and injured at least 10 others, state police said.

The explosion was reported about 10:30 a.m. at Consolidation Coal Co.’s Blackville No. 1 mine, about 25 miles northwest of Morgantown, said Howard McKeown, a state police dispatcher in Morgantown.

Company spokesman Thomas F. Hoffman said the explosion occurred at a production shaft as workers were preparing the mine for closure. No one was inside the mine, which has been idle since last June because of economic conditions, he said.

″Everybody was on top when this happened,″ Hoffman said. ″They were working on the surface, sealing a shaft.

‴This is not like an underground situation where people are trapped,″ he said.

The cause of the explosion wasn’t immediately known, Hoffman said.

Col. Jack Buckalew, the state police superintendent, confirmed two deaths. Hoffman said a worker for an outside company that was a contractor of the mining company died. He did not know of a second fatality, as the state police reported, but said it was possible.

Hoffman said he didn’t know the name of the outside contractor.

Carolyn Bailey Lewis, public information officer for the Monongalia County emergency planning committee, said there was a fire accompanying the explosion but it was brought under control by noon.

The mine last year employed 238 workers. Hoffman said 29 are employed there now.

Nancy Abrams, a spokeswoman at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, said the hospital was treating two people, both ″possibly critical.″ She said she wouldn’t give an exact condition report because of confidentiality policy.

A third worker, a 26-year-old man, was in satisfactory condition at Greene County (Pa.) Memorial Hospital in Waynesburg, Pa., said spokeswoman Linda Mosier.

Ric Robinson of state police had given the number of injured as at least 10. Abrams said some people with minor injuries declined to be taken to the hospital, but she didn’t have an exact number.

Monongalia County is in northern West Virginia, adjacent to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. Blacksville is a community of about 250.

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