A film documenting the fatal Balmer North mine explosion in the Elk Valley will be unveiled in Fernie Thursday night.
Elk Valley residents will take a trip down memory lane, as the film recognizes the 15 people who died in the 50-year-old incident.
One of the filmmakers Alex Hanson says the disaster significantly shaped the Elk Valley’s future, as Michel and Natal residents were moved to neighbouring areas like Sparwood.
“We’ve got eight eye witness accounts we went back and interviewed,” Hanson says. “These people are recounting what happened 50 years ago and it was pretty clear from doing the interviews that these memories were seared into these people’s minds. It was pretty fresh for them.”
A bronze statue was recently unveiled in Sparwood, recognizing the 15 people who were killed in the mine explosion.
Hanson considers this film part of the recognition for the disaster’s 50th anniversary.
“This marked I think the last major multiple casualty event and then the switch to new mining techniques, which are more efficient, but in the end turn out to be safer as well,” Hanson says.
Thursday night’s screening gets underway at 7 pm at the Vogue Theatre.
– Alex Hanson, United Steelworkers Local 9346
– Jeff Johnson
(Historical photo from the District of Sparwood)