Sirius Creek Explosion

21/11/1969 - Sirius Creek / Methane Explosion

The following summary is taken from an Interview with Col King (a Queensland Coal Mining icon).

I was offered a job at Blackwater. I went for an interview. It was a development mine at Sirius Creek. Kaiser Steel from America had it. At Box Flat there were 6 or 8 of us that had Under Manager’s tickets so I decided to get some experience. I went up there and it was fairly hazardous.

I was involved in a gas ignition that landed 6 of us in hospital for a week or two with burns.

We were using a raised borer. We were going to put in ventilation shaft, before we put the other one in by hand. They drilled a pilot hole to the bottom and took the drill off and put on a 6 or 8 feet wide cutting head and pulled it  back up. It reamed and pulled all the stuff out which we shifted on shuttle cars at the bottom. We went through an aquifer half way up and it was like an underground creek. It was running down and turning things into slop and we couldn’t get it over the loading point.

We decided to get the oxy-torch and cut the loading point and widen it out so the slop would go in. Unfortunately while we were doing that the hole collapsed and all the methane gas that had built up under the reamer was forced down and went over the live torch.

What saved us was that it was so wet and we had no coal dust. Some were burnt more than others. I don’t know if it was my Mines Rescue training but I fell to the ground in the mud. When I got up I couldn’t see. I didn’t know the mud was all over my light. I had burns on my hands and my face. The Deputy had pretty serious burns. We got to pit bottom and rang the surface and they sent help.

The Inspector came out and he and the Manager went down and there was nothing there. All there was was the oxy torch. They took us to Emerald Hospital and put us in isolation because it was burns, which was the children’s ward. They gave us a bottle of beer and a cigarette each day. That doesn’t happen these days.

Fortunately we all got over that. The mine up there was only a single entry.

One development tunnel and in that tunnel was the belt, the rails beside it and the ventilation in a big tube. I don’t think you’re not allowed to do that now. You have to have a second exit these days. There was a vertical shaft that went to the bottom that was 1200 feet. We did all that.