“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Whitesville in Boone County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion

A Synopsis of Key Events

— April 5, to April 13, 2010 —

Upper Big Branch — A Synopsis Interpretive Panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, July 13, 2019
1. Upper Big Branch — A Synopsis Interpretive Panel
Monday, April 5
3:01 p.m. Explosion erupts through the mine, blasting debris out of the portals and lasting for several minutes. The carbon monoxide monitoring system alarms and mine fan records show a major disruption to the ventilation.

3:05 p.m. 3:30 p.m. A phone call is placed to MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) and West Virginia MHST (Miners’ Health Safety and Training) emergency hotlines reporting “an air reversal on the beltline and CO 50 to 100 parts per million.” Six Performance Coal personnel enter the mine from the Ellis portal; four others enter from the Upper Big Branch portal.

3:30 p.m. First group of trained Massey Energy rescue personnel arrive at Upper Big Branch and some enter the mine. The six-person group that entered the portal discovers a mantrip and begins evacuating victims from the mine.

4:22 p.m. The Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department receives a phone call requesting an ambulance. It arrives at the mine eight minutes later.

4:30 p.m. — 5:30 p.m. MSHA officials
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arrive at Upper Big Branch and issue a “control order.” The mine rescue plan allows for two rescue teams to enter the mine and establish a fresh air base.

5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Family members begin gathering at the Marfork Safety Building and the press begins to assemble at Marsh Fork Elementary School. Rescue teams advance into the mine, encountering high levels of carbon monoxide on the tail side of the longwall.

8:00 p.m. — 10:00 p.m. Officials conduct the first Briefing for the miner’s families, and Massey Energy issues a news release detailing initial estimate of fatalities and unaccounted miners. Mine rescue teams continue to advance inside the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine.

10:30 p.m. — 11:30 p.m. Mine rescue teams report finding the refuge chamber located near the longwall which has not been deployed.

11:30 p.m. — Midnight. Rescue teams near the HG22 section report their gas detectors are over-the-range for carbon monoxide and methane. The Command Center orders them out of the mine.
Tuesday, April 6
2:30 a.m. — 3:30 a.m.
All rescue team members exit the coal mine. State officials speak to the families and indicate the number of demised and missing.

6:00 a.m. Crews begin drilling the first of
Interpretive Panels image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, July 13, 2019
2. Interpretive Panels
This marker is the center panel.
three boreholes from above the HG22 section. Monitoring of gases continues throughout the day.

9:00 p.m. No unusual underground noise is detected by seismic equipment set up by MSHA.

Wednesday, April 7
Drilling and monitoring of games continues all day. Briefings for Families and media, are conducted periodically by state officials, MSHA personnel, and Massey Energy Executives.

Thursday, April 8
3:30 a.m. — 10:30 a.m. Rescue teams are sent back into the mine to search for four missing miners and to begin the recovery effort. Gas readings at the borehole show explosive levels; all mine rescue teams are ordered to exit the mine.

Briefings for families and media continue throughout the day by state officials and Massey Energy Executives.

Friday, April 9
12:30 a.m. — 5:00 a.m. Rescue teams enter the mine and later detect elevated carbon monoxide levels and smoke. All rescue team members are ordered out of the mine.

11:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. Funeral services are held in various southern West Virginia towns for seven coal miners lost in the explosion.

4:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m. Two rescue teams enter while nitrogen is being pumped into the mine through boreholes drilled earlier in the week.
Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial — Interpretive Signage Area image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, July 13, 2019
3. Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial — Interpretive Signage Area
Two additional teams enter after 7:00 p.m.

10:00 p.m. — 11:30 p.m. Mine rescue teams locate the four remaining victims.

11:35 p.m. State and Federal officials and Massey Energy Executives provide final briefing for the families. Massey Energy Executives indicate that the entire mine had been explored, all of the miners had been located, and no one survived. Governor Manchin announces to gathered media during a press conference, “We did not receive the miracle we were praying for. This journey has ended and now the healing will start.”

Saturday, April 10
The recovery effort begins in earnest. Teams are forced out of the mine at 5:50 p.m. due to elevated levels of carbon monoxide and low oxygen levels. Rescue teams will be forced out of the mine several more times over the course of the next two days.

Tuesday, April 13
By early morning, the recovery effort is complete. The last mine rescuers on site cover the entrance to the UBB mine in a large American flag — a final homage to the men and the sacrifice they made for the country.

In Memory of
Carl Acord, 52 • Jason Atkins, 25 • Christopher Bell, 33 • Gregory Steven Brock, 47 • Kenneth Allen Chapman, 53 • Robert Clark, 41 • Charles Timothy Davis, 51 • Cory Davis, 20
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• Michael Lee Elswick, 56 • William Griffith, 54 • Steven Harrah, 40 • Edward Dean Jones, 50 • Richard K. Lane, 45 • William Lynch, 59 • Joe Marcum, 57 • Ronald Lee Maynor, 31 • Nicholas Darrell McCroskey, 26 • James E. Mooney, 51 • Adam Keith Morgan, 21 • Rex L. Mullins, 50 • Joshua S. Napper, 25 • Howard D. “Boone” Payne, 53 • Dillard Earl Persinger, 32 • Joel R. Price, 55 • Gary Quarles, 33 • Deward Scott, 58 • Grover Dale Skeens, 57 • Benny Willingham, 60 • Ricky Workman, 50
5 APRIL 2010

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkCommunicationsDisastersIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical date for this entry is April 5, 2010.
Location. 37° 58.764′ N, 81° 32.047′ W. Marker is in Whitesville, West Virginia, in Boone County. Marker is on Coal River Road (West Virginia Route 3) just west of Bridge Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Whitesville WV 25209, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. West Virginia Coal Mine Disasters (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion (here, next to this marker); Big Coal River (a few steps from this marker); Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Coal River (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Whitesville School (approx. 0.2 miles away); William S. Dunbar (approx. 11.4 miles away); Mary Ingles (approx. 13.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Whitesville.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 226 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 5, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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Jun. 7, 2023