Many gather to remember fallen miners at 12th Annual Brookwood M - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Many gather to remember fallen miners at 12th Annual Brookwood Miners Memorial Service

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Many gathered together at the 12th Annual Brookwood Miners Memorial Service on Monday to remember the fallen miners of one of the deadliest mine accidents in US history.

On September 23, 2001 explosions tore through Jim Walter Mine Number 5 in Brookwood. While the coal miners worked, falling rocks bounced off their helmets and ignited sparks that set off the original methane gas explosion.  This first blast injured six miners. 

Soon after, a second more deadly explosion went off while rescue workers were trying to reach the trapped miners. A total of 13 men died from the gas and fire as the mine's ventilation system failed.

Ricky Rose, a miner who was trapped underground for over an hour during the explosions, described his harrowing experience on that day "It was a living nightmare-it looked like a tornado coming at you spinning sideways."

In the tight knit Brookwood mining community, September 23, 2001 will never be forgotten.

For Rose, remembering that tragic day means remembering the faces of the 13 men he considers brothers and personal heroes, and Rose said as much as he wants to put those disastrous events behind him he will keep remembering and in turn, fighting, for better mine safety.

"We need more stringent safety laws to make it as safe as we can for coal miners because they want to come home every night to their loved ones."

Wanda Blevins', whose husband died in the explosions, is also part of the campaign for better safety standards and procedures in US mines. Events like the Brookwood Miners Memorial Service help keep Blevins, and countless others affected by September 23rd, the strength to keep going.

"It's so important to us-the family members who are left behind."

Members of Brookwood mining community vow that the memories and stories of the 13 departed miners will never perish and that the family members who are left behind will never be alone.

The service was open to the public and held at the Miners' Memorial Monument at West Brookwood Church.

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