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Philippi Main Street seeks to raise about $10,000 to complete Sago Mine Memorial

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PHILIPPI, West Virginia — Philippi Main Street is working to raise about $10,000 to complete a memorial honoring 12 miners killed in a 2006 explosion at the Sago Mine.

The memorial also will honor all miners who have died in the pursuit of coal, Tammy Stemple, director of Phillipi Main Street, told media outlets.

Stemple said the memorial's first phase, a bronze piece depicting miners awaiting rescue, is complete. The second phase will include a stone marker on which the bronze piece will be mounted and landscaping. The bronze piece currently is on display in a law office's window in Philippi.

The memorial will be located in the Blue and Gray Park at the Covered Bridge in Philippi.

Philippi Main Street began its campaign to honor fallen miners in 2008. The organization hopes to complete the memorial by Jan. 2, 2016, the 10th anniversary of the disaster.

Three of the workers who were killed were Barbour County residents.

"It's very nice. They just wanted to show respect. It was a tragic event in the state of West Virginia and we think that it's important to do something for them and their families," Philippi Councilman Ed Larry told The Inter-Mountain.

Sago became synonymous with the dangers miners face when powerful methane gas explosion tore through the underground mine near Buckhannon just as two crews of miners were starting work.

One crew made it out alive, but a second 13-member team was trapped for more than 40 hours in an atmosphere poisoned with carbon monoxide. Only one man from the second team, Randal McCloy Jr., was found alive.

The tragedy was compounded by initial reports that rescuers had found 12 survivors, before the hopes of family members were dashed by word that only McCloy was alive.

The Sago explosion, along with other high-profile accidents, prompted sweeping federal and state mine safety legislation.


Information from: The Inter-Mountain, http://www.theintermountain.com

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