Archive for Friday, January 20, 2006

Fire erupts in mine; two miners missing

January 20, 2006

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— A fire broke out late Thursday in an underground coal mine in southern West Virginia and two workers were unaccounted for, authorities said.

The fire was reported at the Aracoma Coal Co. in Mellville, about 60 miles southwest of Charleston.

Jeff Gillenwater, a spokesman for the mine's owner, Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy, said the blaze began on a conveyer belt inside the mine and the mine itself was not on fire.

"It is not a raging fire. It is a belt line fire that caused smoke in the coal mine," Gillenwater told The Logan Banner newspaper. "There are two individuals we are currently trying to find in the coal mine."

Gillenwater said there was clean air in several sections of the mine. "These two guys know this coal mine well, and we're just hopeful mine rescue finds them quickly," he said.

The fire was reported to Logan County's emergency center at 8:05 p.m. and appeared to be about 10,000 feet inside the mine, said Doug Conaway, director of the state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training.

Four rescue teams had entered the mine and two were heading to the mine, he said. Gov. Joe Manchin also was at the mine site early today.

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