Miner Trapped in Sunshine Mine Disaster Talks About Mine Rescue - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Miner Trapped In Sunshine Mine Disaster Talks About Mine Rescue In Chile

KELLOGG, Idaho  - The worst mining accident in Idaho history happened back in 1972 when a fire broke out at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho, killing 91 workers. The fire trapped many of the miners and rescuers were only able to save two men, but not before they had to spend eight days more than a mile underground.

Ron Flory was one of the two men that survived that mining disaster. Like many people he has been watching the miners being rescued in Chile. He says it definitely brings back memories of when he was finally pulled up to safety. He says he knows the exact emotions going through their heads.

"Just sheer ecstasy," said Ron Flory, Sunshine Mine disaster survivor. "They've got to be happy knowing they're finally going home."

For eight days in 1972, Ron Flory and Tom Wilkinson were trapped underground of the Sunshine Mine as rescuers worked to save them.

"We could walk back to where our fresh air was coming from, but we didn't do a lot of moving around after the first or second day," said Flory.

Flory says they were only able to eat food from the packs of miners that had already died. He says it was hard to handle the heat and humidity.

"I would imagine that they were pretty much in the same kind of conditions. Pretty hot," said Flory.

Many of the miners pulled out in Chile hugged the men that have worked non-stop to save them. Flory says it's an appreciation that is hard to express.

"They were definitely happy to see us and we were happy to see them, but not a lot you can say except thank you," said Flory.

Flory says he survived because a guardian angel likely was looking over them, and the miners in Chile should feel the same way.

"They have to know that somebody is taking care of them, or that's the way I would feel anyway," said Flory.

Flory isn't surprised that mining accidents still happen even forty years after his disaster. He says it's just the nature of the business, and it takes a certain type of person to be a miner, a strong back with a small mind.

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