Coal miner Kevin Lambert says he and his co-workers knew something was very wrong when they noticed that the fan that propels air underground at the Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W. Va. had reversed, and was blowing dust out as they were about to start the evening shift there.
"There's only certain things that can make that fan reverse," Massey told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith Wednesday. "We knew it had to be something big."
They were right. A .
Lambert, who's mined for Massey since 2001, suspects methane gas. "We know it's gassy coal," he said. "We know that when - you're gonna hit methane. You don't know where it comes from. Could come from a crack. Could come anywhere. All it takes is a spark. I can't see how they can point a finger at just anybody. It's just methane."
Does he feel Massey, whose safety record has come under scrutiny, is a safe operator?
"They treat me alright," Lambert replied. "There's no safe mines. I don't care where you go. You're not gonna find a safe mine. They could do whatever they want - make all the laws.
"When a man goes (into a mine), he knows that could be it. … You stick your head between two rocks to make a living, you know you're taking a chance. These 25 guys … they died for a cause. Every time you turn your lights on at home … you should think about them guys.
"Everybody overlooks West Virginia. They never think about coal. We need coal. We gotta have coal. Ya gotta have it. Gotta have it. Bottom line - gotta have it."
Lambert is holding out hope the missing are still alive: "Just keep hoping these other four guys - I hope they're just lost. I hope they find them. Keep hoping and praying."
More on the mine disaster:
Mine CEO Doesn't Rule out Violations as Cause
W. Va. Coal Mine Blast: The Victims
List Of Recent Fatal U.S. Mine Disasters
In Coal Mines, Risk of Death Is Part of Life
Mines not Paying Fines a Familiar Story
Gov.: "No Excuse" for Mine Safety Flaws
Eerie Statement from Miner Killed in Blast
Mining Company Previously Fined for Safety
Mine Explosion Rescue Efforts
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