SCRANTON, Pa. -- Officials with the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour say someone broke into the mine overnight and caused some damage, but it could have been much worse for the tour and the vandal.
The coal miners who run the tour at McDade Park found the damage when they were doing the morning inspection of the mine.
The vandal went to great lengths, literally, as the coal mine tour happens 300 feet below ground.
The miners who run the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour go into the mine each morning to do an inspection to make sure it's safe for the day's tours.
What they found was disappointing to patrons who showed up for the first tour.
"They said it was closed, so they're doing an inspection down there, coming out I found out one idiot got in there and messed up the place," said visitor Nigel Glassbrook.
Miners found some of the displays below ground were toppled over and broken, but all the entrances to the mine were still locked.
Eventually, they found where the vandal got in by breaking bolts off a metal panel by the main entrance.
"To the displays, there was some minor damage that we can repair. fortunately, it could have been worse," said Bill Davis, Lackawanna County Parks & Recreation.
The miners use big fans every morning to clear the mine tour of any toxic gases that may have built up overnight. They tell us that those gas levels have been unusually high this week because of how humid it's been. So, they've been running the fan overnight and that very well may have saved the vandal's life.
"After we shut those fans off, the gases can build up again, and that's why it's extremely dangerous. We also secure the mine. There's a locked door that prevents people from going down into the mine," Davis said.
Park officials say they plan to weld the metal panels together from now on -- a security measure they never thought they'd have to make.
"It's never been an issue in all the years I've been here, but apparently it is now," Davis added.
The vandalism delayed the start of tours by a couple of hours on Friday but everything is back up and running now, and park officials say all of the damage can, fortunately, be fixed.