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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - November 11, 1914, Lethbridge, Alberta WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1914 THE LETHBRIDGE DA^LY HERALkl PAGE FIVE GAS EXPLOSION SPREAD BY DUST CAUSED THE HILLCREST DISASTER CONTINUED FROM FRONT PAGE In general it may be Biiid llint with the exception of wh.'it is known Us a blown-out shot, nil mine explosions must originate with the ignition Di' giis. In the case of ii blown-ont fihot, however, dnst may be ignited directly, and given uust in snflicient quantities and o!. a sufllciently explosive character, an explosion may result, and a blown-out shot, may Df course, result in ignition of the gas. Apart from this, the ignition of f;as may be caused in a niiniber of ways. An open flame sueli as from a match or a naked lamp, a defective safety lamp, the s]5ark from a pick i)r tool, OT the .sparking of electric wires or motors may be said to be i.lie most common causes of the ignition of gas in a mine. A fall of rock of j|5j�ucli a character as will give olf a spark upon falling, and which, draws clown M'ith it a pocket of gas may also cause this ignition. The mere ignition of gas however, doesn't necessarily lead to a mine explo.sion. A great deal will depend on the explosive character of the firedamp, and the condition of the mine air and workings in rospoot of gas, dust and moisture. Af3 regards the possibility of the Hillerest explosion being originated by a blown-out shot, it is agreed Ijy all the witnesses, that that cause may bo eliminated in the present enquiry. All shots in the nnne are fired by tlio J'jxaminer by means of an eleclrie battery and cable, and the Ex-an)iiu;r who alone woidd liave fired the .shots in that, ])ortion of the mine where llui explosion did occur M'as found uilli the firifig cable wound , ai'ound his body and Ihe baUery key in his pocket. The other Examiner!'-'^ anyiliing i;o warnm on iluiy in the minc^ was anHeig those in tiie workings of iSi^umber 1 North Level, all of whom v.-cre t^iived. In this mine no naked liglus are allowed, the lamp in use being the Woir Safety Lnnip, and ihrse lamps are examined by the Examiner before to ventilate the balance of the workings of Number 2 mine, was srvta'cly criticized by Mr. Frasor, the expert witnops for the miners and by oiliei-s, owing to the fact that (his woidd mean tlmt air already viiiatod ihroiigh the ventilation of one portion of the mine, would be turned in to mi.v with the fresh current of air used to ventilate another part of Hie ininri. Jt is true that there was an overcaHt crossing Number 2 .'�lopi-, a little above the junction of this slojie and Number 1 Soath J-hmI. and h.id the return air from Number 1 North Level, been carried llii-oi!;di ihi;-overcast to the surface no objection in regard to this part of ilic viMiiihi-tion system could have bcwi raised, and it was at least Siigu'i'stcd hv counsel for the Company, that this overcast was probably in n;:' ni .Ih^ time of the explosion. The evidence liowever, 1 think, is clear, iliat this overcast was not being used at that tijne, and it, seems to been a fact that this return current from Nnmiicr 1 North Jjf'wl, dirj (rruci down Number 2 slo])e and from Ibci-o along with the intake ciin-cnt dnwii the slope through the other poi'lion of tlie worlciiigs of Ninnh'T 2 niitic. Measuremods of ihe qiinnlity (d' iiir taken into the niine id ilu: different intake's are made once a week by the Overman, luwl of tiie.sc nua.s-urenients bd'oro ilic disieier, u'as fakcn on ihr June. Oji that day, tlies;o meaiarl of'niiiie. I am distinctly under the imjiression, however, that at least ihe anyone employed in such a mine may result in an ap])alling disastei'. ! intention of the Alberta Act was that the term, "district" or ''split"' .With regard to a fall of rock such as has been mentioned, obviously | "bouId receive the .same meajijjig as tlic term "ventilatioJi district" in no conelusiou can be arrived at. The rock formation in this mine is the jibe .British Coal }i[ines Act. same as at Bellevtic, where .some four years ago, a number pf explosions, the origin of whicli was attriliulod to the sparking emitted itpon such a fall, occurred. Evidence was given by two witnesses, (pages 57, 58 and 100 in the evidence) that tliey had .seen a fail of rock cause sparks. Bome four years ago, in the cdd workings of this mine. There is also evidence giveit as to the striking of sparks by a pick. Given a proper mixture of gas and air an ignition might follow from euch a cause. As to the sparking of electric wires or motors, there were three electric pumps in Number 2 slope, placed respectively one hundred and thirty feet, nine Juindrcd feet and liftoen hundred feet down the slope and the cables for driving these pumps ran down this slope. The report of the electrician shows that (he wires were properly insulated and whatever tlte etfeet nright be from the danger of these cables and pumps, with I the system of ventilation that apparently prevailed in this instance, there i is wo suggestion that the explosion originated in Number 2 slope and �fe^that cause of ignition may,'I think, bo eliminated. ~ TJie question of the ventilaiion of the mine is manifestly one of great importance to be considered in connection with this investigation. There is always a certain amount of gas being generated from the coal in a mine of this description, particularly from the working faces, and it is through the proper ventilation of the mine and the proper direction of the air currents, that this gas is carried off, freeing those working places from the^ undue presence of gas which otherwise would constitute H coiislant menace to tlio .'safety of the mine. The exact details of the ventilation system of this mine were known only to the Jlino jManager, 3Ir. Quigley, and tlie Overman, Mr. Taylor, and both of these officials were among the victims of the disaster. Under the provisions of the Alberta Mines Act the mine operators are not required to keep in their olfice a plan of the ventilation system of the mine, our Act therein differing from the Coal Mines Act of Great Britain, which malccs it obligatory ujwn the company to keep such a i^lan in its olfice. Consecjuently there was no plan kept of this ventilation system, and as a consequence of the deatli of these oificials, the only evidence tlmt was available in this regard was that of the surviving E.xamiuers. At the enquiry a plan of the mine was produced and upon it the Examiners traced as nearly as they could the direction of the air currents in their respective districts. While the production of a plan of the ventilation .sy.slem, as is required to bo Iccpt under the provisions of the Briti.sli Act, would have beyond doubt been more satisfactoiy, I think on the whole, the evidence of the Examiners presents' a fairly accurate idea of the ventilation system of this mine. By way of explanation, it may be said that there are two entrances to the Ilillercst Mine, one called the Rock Tunnel, leading to Number 1 slant or slope, and to the new .slant, and the other, which is designated us Number 3 slope or slant. All the coal.from the workings above, or father east and south of Number 1 slant, is taken up through the Rock Tunnel and this part of the mine for the sake of convenience is referred to as Number I'Mine, while the coal from all the other portions of the mine is taken up the Number 3 slant or slope, and these portions of the mine are, for the same reason, referred to as Number 3 Jline. In reality, however, all the workings are connected and comprise but one mine. There were two fans employed in the ventilation of llio mijio. One, an electrically driven fan of the Sheldon-Sirocco typn, placed a little to the south of the .Rock Tunnel, acted as an exliaust fan, while the other, a steam driven fan, located a little to the north of the entrance to Number 2 slope, was used as a forcing fan. This latter fan, at the time of the accident, was forcing the air into the workings of that part of the'mine known as Number 1 North Level. The return air from Number 1 North Level, appanmtly joined the intake air going down Number 2 slope. These combined eurrcnt.s travelled down this slope to Number 3 South Level, along the level to the face, returning back along the working faces of Number 2 Smith, to Room 3J, and thence to the exhaust fan Assuming for the moment that there were two distinct .splils in Number 3 mine, it still seems that there were considerably more men cinphjyed in these workings than the Act sanctions. It is to be regrctied that ilie reports kept by the comjiany do not give very definite information as to the number of men employed iu the various parts of the mine. The explanation given was that the men, with ihe exception of the miners, are often moved from one part of the mine to another. This is quite consoiv-able, and is indeed undoubtedly the case, but without more definite track being kept of the whereabouts of the men than was ap]iarcntly done here, it is difTicult to see how the .section of The Minos Act limiting the number of 3nen in each district or split, can be observed. The estimate of Mr. Eraser, as to the number of men employed in Number 2 mine, exclusive of Number 1 North Level, in view of ihe evidence, is, I think, excessive. It is impossible to fix exactly the number of men employed in Number 3 mine at the time of the disaster. The rescue parties, as may be readily conceived, paid little attention to the location wdiere the bodies of the victims were found, and even the location of the bodies would not be conclusive in this regard, as there is little doubt but that many of the men, after the e.xidosiou, left their working places, in an attempt to escape, before they suocumbcd to tlie effect of the afterdamp. According to the figures submitted by the company as showing the number of men checked into the mine, on the morning of the disaster, there were fifty-nine men in Number 1 mine and one lumdred and seventy-six in Number 2 mine. All of the men in umber 1 North Level, forty-six in number, were saved .so that in the remaining portion of Number 3 mine the company's figures would show that there were jone lumdred and thirty men. The evidence bears out, however, the company's explanation that the men were moved about the mine after being sent into it, as while the ilgures show that there were three tracklayers in Number 3 mine, and none in Number 1 mine, the evidence is that one of tlicsc men was killed in Number 1 mine. Again while there is no strict evidence on the point, it appears that the number of buckers found in Number 1 mine was verj- considenibl}' greater than the company's figures show. 1 think that possibly an extreme estimate of the men employed in Number 3 mine apart from Number 1 North Level, would be 130 and it v.'as probably less. Assuming that there were 130 men there at the time of the disaster, it will be seen that the quantity of air coming down Number 3 slope would be at least sullicient to allow the required two hundred cubic feet per man tb.at is required by the Act. It is true that this docs not take into consideration the fact that there were some hor.ses in tile mine at the time, 'mU; neither, however, does it take in.to aceouut the compressed air below .Number 3 South Level, nor the air going down the neM slant. On the other hand if Number 3 mine was all in one district or s])lit, there would be considerably over the required 200 cubic feet per man. "l.Tpon the whole it appears tliat while the Act appears to have been violated so far as employing more than seventy men in a split or district, it is probable tliat there was a sullicient volume of air in this portion of the mine to allow the roqtiisiie amount per man as is required by the Act and the evidence does not warrant any finding that the iioiicorapliance of the Act ill this regard contributed to the explosion. It may bo taken for granted.. I think, that both the ventilating fans were properly working.up to the time of the accident. Any stojipage of the electrically driven fan M'oiild have been at once noticed by the man in charge of the switch board at ihe power house. So far as the evidence goes it doesn't seem that any notice had been given to ihe steam driven fan for about half an hour before the occurrence of the explosion. 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Ee sssae to get WRIOUTTS! a M'orking of this fan could be hoard by the hokstnian in the engine houKC, I provided tJio window of idle engine house was open, but the fan it.self eoiild ' not be seen fr(mi there.- While there is nothing to suggest that this fan was not working at the time of the disaster, and the evidence all :ioes , - to show that it was, it does seem that closer oversiidit should have been through an overcast over the new slant, after ventilating the working kejit u]3oii this fan, when its stoppage miaht c;ut off the entire ventila-])lace.s of ISumber ] .South Jjevel. Another current pas.^nl down Number ition of one portion of the mine. The attachment of an r 1 slant, returning along the counter, after ha.ving ventilated the places in the level oif this slant, and the places above the slant wlicre the pillars were being extracted. The current going lliroiigh the Itock Tunnel �.\to some extent split at the junetioii of this tunnel with Number 1 slant *�ind the new slant, a portion travelling down the new slant as far as a 6l.0])]iing at about the sceond cross-cut in Koom 31. That this current, laMvever, did not play any im]iortaiit pnrt in the veutilatum of the mine may be judged by the fact that no measurement ap]iarenlly was ever taken of the air jiar-.^dng iloivii the new slant. The evidence was that a ce^'taiii amount, of this current leaked through this stopping into lloom 31, and from tiiese joined the air current ventilating the workings of Number 1 South Level. The workings below Number 3 slope as far down as Number 3 Soiitli Level according to the plan marked by the Kxamiiiers appear to have been ventilated, at least to some extent, by a split of the air current down Number 3 slojio, but below Number 3 South Level, the workings were ventilated by means of coni])resscd air and it was almost universally agreed, I think, that the use of compressed air for ventilation purposes in a mine of this chaiaeter, was objectionable. The turning of the return air current from Number 1 North Level,,......... � j.........^ ia with the intake current travelling (Vivu Number 2 slope and used more than ordinarily free of u'as duvinc that time. There does automatic indicator to the fan would avoid any ,parently the only imiiiediatc danger that was anticipated from the presence of this dust was from .=;liot-tiring and it seems that shot-firing was discontinued in the places complained of. On the other hand the far as the question concerns Number 1 North Level, it is of no itnport-w:' there vras no explosion in that part of the mine, iand in regard to Number 2 South Level, it must be remembered the fan would start to expel the gas from the raise v.'heii the morning shift went on, that i.s a I seven o'c^lock in the morning, and the explosion did not occur until two and a half hours afterwards-. There is again nothing I think to h^how that ihe c.Nplosion originated at this point nor I think did any of the witnesses so contend. And as'to the general practice of using these fans, under such conditions, it must be said that Mr. Hudson, rciirc;;entativo of the Dominion Department of Mines, and a man of wiile experience i)i mining matters was unwilling to criticize their use. It appears from the evidence, that while the system of ventilation in some details has, and, 1 think, with some reason been eritieized by .-ome of the witnesses giving evidence at the enquiry, so far as the men SHOULD EAT A PHYSICIAN'S ADVICE "Judigpstion and practically �11 forriis cf stomach trouble are. nina times out of ten, due to acidity;; tliereCore stomacli sufferers Btiould, wlienever possible, avoid eatlcg food that is acid in its nature, or wlilch by olici!iical action in tlie stomach de-veIop= acidity. Unfortunately, buoU a rule eliminates most feeds which ar* plca.-ant to tlie taste as well as those whi(Oi are rich in blood, flesh and nerve building properties. This l8 the reason why dyspeptics and BtomaC'h suft'ercrs are usually so thin, emaciated and lacking In that vital energy wiiich cau only come from a well fed body. For the benefit of tlioee Buf-ferers who have been obliged to exclude from their diet all starchy, sweet or tatty food, and are trying to keep up a miserable existence on gluten products, I would suggest that you should try a meal of any food or foods which you may like, in moderate amount, taking immediately afterwards a. teaspoonful of bisurated magnesia in a little hot or cold water. This will neutralize any acid which mm be present, or which may be formed, and instead of the usual feeling cf uneasiness and fullness, you �will find that your food agrees with you perfectly. Bisurated magnesia is doubtless the best food corrective and antacid known. It has no direct action on the stomach, but by neutralizing; the acidity of the food contents, and thus removing the source of the acid irritation which inflames the delicate stomach lining, It does more than could possibly be done by any drug or medicine. Aa a physician, I believe in the use ot medicine whenever necessary, but I must admit that I caunot see the sense of dosing an inflamod and irritated stomach with drugs Instead of getting rid of � acid-the cause of all the trouW* Get a little bisurated magneslB trota your druggist,J?*?i._y�"i,"l�^* not , ., . .; ,, --------......-1-.'.), oi., xc.i itb un; jueiiiyour next meat, take some of tb� bl^ of the mine were concerned, there seems to have been onlv one opinion unrated .f'i?^''^'^,^'^" 'A'V? m regard lo the ventilation and that was, that the ventilation gyodklil'.'" ' ^ _ so far as their own particular working places were concerned. There Arthur Copper, the new Republican was apparently no c/>mplaint whatever bv th" men in that regard. /Fovemor of Kansas, .is the �ubllsb(N| ft^XyiNUED ON NEXT I'AGB). * /of tl.� Topeka Capital ,j ;