Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Farmington, West Virginia, mine explosion, which killed 78 people. It was the deadliest fire or explosion in the United States in 1968, according to NFPA.
The incident is featured in "Looking Back" in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.
"Man, it was like somebody hit me in the face with a bucket full of dirt," one survivor recalled in a video on the incident produced by NIOSH in 2009. "You couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe. So I just pulled my shirt up over my face and sat down. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face it was so dusty." The survivor, Gary Martin, was one of only 21 miners working that day who made it out alive.
Although the cause of the mine explosion was never officially determined, it spurred a wave of legislation improving mine and miner safety throughout the United States. Read the full NFPA Journal article here.