Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 63 - Serving on the Mine Rescue Team

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/6/1 (186 reads)

for us--but thank God, we had no trouble. I didn't rush them. I let them do the work, two at a time. Had two standby in case they got in trouble. If anything happened to one of our machines, you get one breath of that, you're out, you're finished. I was at Springhill in '56. There were two teams from Glace Bay. We got the call, of the explosion in Number 4 Colliery, Spring? hill. I was in church. It was a holy day. It was All Saints' or All Souls'. And they came looking for me. So when I got home, I went over to the old station. Got every? thing ready, and just after 3 in the morn? ing, we left. We hit Springhill roughly a- bout 9, and at 20 to 11 I had my crew into the mine. So we went in the mine, not too long--we went in to build stoppings to stop the fresh air going down to feed the fire. I went in and the first fellow I saw was dead, and it was a friend of mine that had played ball down here in Dominion. I didn't know then who he was, but I covered him up with brattice so the team that was working wouldn't see it and get a little excited or something. When we were ready to leave, I told them about it. We came back out of the mine. That was the first fellow, and it's funny, too, to think that I could know him. When I came up, I told them what I had found, where he was, and they told me who he was. Then we got settled, got our board? ing house and got supper--and the next call was 10 o'clock in the night, our crew was called out again. (And what would you do on these trips?) It was an explosion. Everything was there, full of gas. A lot of the stoppings were blown out and therefore there was no air in lots of places. It was gas. And we'd be travelling through that. We'd come across a body, we'd take the body and lay it aside. And there we went, looking for anybody a- live in the mine. There's nothing we could do for those fellows then, they were gone. So just put them where we knew we could get them and take them out later, (How were these men killed?) Mostly gas, mostly got in gas after. The fire burnt the oxygen. Most of those men were trying to make it, I guess, to get out, and they got into the gas. Anyway, Sunday morning, the boarding Mrs. came up. She said, "There's something going on at the mine, you'd better come down and check, see what's going on," Everybody was running. People coming in all directions. Running to the mine. Here the team that had been down, they found in the vicinity of 21, 22 alive in the mine. They were into a pump- house. It had a door on each end. And the compressed air for the machines and the hose ran into this pump. They had the two doors closed. There were 21 of them sitting around in the pumphouse, and they were tak? ing turns with the hose, sucking on the hose and the compressed air, keeping them going. Well, the compressed air has a damp? ness of water with it, and that was helping them, too. There was a gauge on the surface, of the compressed air. Everything was shut off be? cause we were going to close the mine at 11 o'clock. A fellow on the surface noticed a little hand going on the compressed air. Now he was pretty sharp to notice that. YOUR NEAREST LANDS & FORESTS OFFICE DIAL *0? AND ASK FOR ZENITH 40000 Nova Scotia Department of LANDS and FORESTS On Beautiful Isle Madame Acadian Campsite 3-Way or Partial Hook-ups Freshwater Lake June - September Arichat 226-2447 Tourist Brochures & Colour Printing A Specialty PRINTERS 180 TOWNSEND STREET, SYDNEY, N. S. TELEPHONE (902) 5644245 HANDCRAFT COOPERATIVE Co-operative Artisanale de Cheticamp Limitee p. 0. Box 98, Cheticamp, Inverness Co., N. S. (224-2170) CHETICAMP, N.S. Produit de laine crochete. Finest hooking in virgin wool is our specialty. Aradian i Acadian Meals /-AV./CIV-IICII I Soupes - Mets au poisson Museum • . '''' ' '' viande Crepes aux ponmes de terre Our shop is located in Cheticamp on the Cabot Trail. Monday - Sunday 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. May 15 - Oct. 15 (63)
Cape Breton's Magazine
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