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When Coal Was King
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Bellevue Explosion—December 9, 1910

Bellevue - Bob OwenOn the afternoon shift of December 9, 1910, 42 men descended into the mine to perform their duties. At about 8:00 p.m. a tremendous blast from the inner workings swept the main haulage. The blast forced the air out of the tunnels and it was replaced by the often fatal "after damp."

Heroic work was performed by relief crews who came from Fernie through, to, and including Passburg. Pit bosses, fire bosses, engineers and miners hastened to render any assistance they could. Many men from the rescue crews were dragged from the mine unconscious as they endeavored to penetrate to search for the trapped miners.

Fred Alderson of Hosmer lost his life when he removed the mask he was wearing and gave it to a miner who was suffering from gas inhalation. Inspector Bob Strachan of Fernie was near death, but his life was saved by the most heroic methods of resuscitation. Dr. McKenzie of Bellevue took chances with his life in attempting to save victims.

Lungmotor30 men lost their lives [according to mining historian John Kinnear, it is likely that 31 men were killed] but had the explosion happened on the day shift more men would have died since the normal worker compliment was 200. The victims were Fred Alderson, A. Aulterk, G. Basso, F. Biegnan, J. Bonato, J. Drewinski, S. D'Ercole, M. Geiga, Mike Korman, C. Telite, John Robo, F.Roberts, M. Saave, B. Tripoli, V. Tripoli, F. Ullvinin, M. Quintilio, M. Weburg, M. lori, M. Trip, Sam Lamata, J. Bernato, J. Doskara, F. Martini, M. Condratichen, Mike Nicosumac, Nils Maki, A. Puymo.

The bodies of seven men were interred in the Passburg cemetery, 15 in the Union and six in the Catholic cemeteries at Blairmore.

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