Memorial Held for 20th Anniversary of Brookwood, Alabama Mine Explosion
The Alabama Miner's Memorial Foundation hosted a memorial for the 20th anniversary of the Brookwood Mine Explosion, which took place on September 23, 2001.
The explosion took place on a Sunday around 5 p.m. while 32 miners were in the Jim Walter's number five mine, killing 13 men.
"There were 12 people who were actually going to rescue one of their brothers [who] was covered in rock, and those 13 men lost their lives," said Larry Spencer, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International Vice President of District 20.
According to UMWA, "the victims were working about 2,000 feet below the surface when a pair of explosions ripped through the mine, located about 40 miles southwest of Birmingham. An investigation showed a battery charger ignited highly flammable gas in the mine, causing the blast."
The annual memorial was held at West Brookwood Church, where there is a memorial plaque that lists the name of the 13 men who were killed:
- Gaston Adams Jr.
- Raymon Ashworth
- Nelson Banks
- David Blevins
- Clarence "Bit" Boyd
- Wendell Johnson
- John Knox
- Dennis Mobley
- Charles Nail
- Joe Riggs
- Charles Smith
- Joe Sorah
- Terry Stewart
"Every year, we try to remember not just the 13 men who were died at the Jim Walter's No. 5 mine, [but] we try to remember all of our fallen brothers and sisters," Spencer said.
Spencer says that it is important to have this event so tragedies like this can be prevented.
"We want people to remember what happened, so it doesn't happen again," said Spencer.
Several people came and spoke at the event, including Thomas Wilson, UMWA District 20 Safety Director at the time of the explosion, and Brothers United, a gospel group that includes mine workers.
"Healing and support for the families of the other miners. I also believe if we don't remember what's killed workers, we are bound to repeat," Wilson said.
Spencer said that "everyone [should] remember the families in prayer."