Another Mine Incident
MELLVILLE, W.Va. - A fire broke out in an underground coal mine in southern West Virginia late Thursday 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 is 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.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin said she was told by officials from the state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training that 12 miners had initially gone into the mine to start their shift and ran into some type of smoke or fire.
"They turned around and backed out and they realized there were two that weren't with them. The rescue crews are trying to determine their location," said Lara Ramsburg, Manchin's spokeswoman.
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. Manchin also was on the scene early Friday, and miners' families gathered at the Brightstar Freewill Baptist Church, about a mile away.
"All resources are either at the mine or on their way to the mine site," said Ramsburg.
The blaze occurred less than three weeks after an explosion at the International Coal Group's Sago Mine in Upshur County killed 12 miners.
The sole survivor of that blast, Randal McCloy Jr., 26, remained hospitalized Friday in a light coma at a hospital in Morgantown.