Consol continues efforts to extinguish fire
Consol Energy continued its efforts Thursday to extinguish a fire that started Tuesday afternoon in its Blacksville No. 2 Mine in southern Greene County.
The company, working with state and federal mining officials, earlier identified the general location of the fire and began pumping water into the mine through an existing borehole at the mine’s Orndoff air shaft in Wayne Township attempting to douse it.
Consol has brought in drilling rigs and is drilling additional boreholes from which it can increase the volume of water it can pump into the mine.
The fire was discovered about 2 p.m. Tuesday when smoke was detected coming from the Orndoff shaft on King Sister Hill Road. All 121 workers underground were safely evacuated through the mine’s Kuhntown portal, about a mile north of the shaft on Oak Forest Road.
The section of the mine where the fire is expected to be is not an active working section, Consol spokeswoman Lynn Seay said Thursday in an email.
The company began pumping water into the existing borehole early Wednesday and by 4 p.m. Thursday, about 800,000 gallons of water had been pumped into the mine.
The first new borehole, which was drilled near the Orndoff shaft, also was completed Thursday. A camera was lowered through the borehole into the mine to gauge air flow and determine conditions. “We detected light smoke but no fire,” Seay said.
The company will now use the new borehole to pump additional water into the mine. A pump and water line are being installed to support the effort and should be in place Friday, Seay said.
The line to the borehole will draw water from a pond near the shaft, according to Jesse Lawder, spokesman for the Department of Labor.
Two additional drilling rigs are also on site and have begun drilling. The boreholes will have shallow casings designed to protect groundwater, Seay said. Water also will be pumped through those boreholes when they are completed.
In addition, infrastructure is being built to accommodate trucks and pumps to deliver water from additional sources if needed, Seay said.
Consol Energy’s team remains on-site around the clock, Seay said. Others participating in the effort include the Mine, Safety and Health Administration, West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and the United Mine Workers union, which represents the mine’s workforce.
Consol has cancelled all shifts while efforts to extinguish the fire continue. No personnel will re-enter the mine until it is determine it is safe to do so, the company said.
The mine’s major surface operations are in Wana, W.Va., though the mine mines coal and has a portal and other facilities in Greene County. It employs about 650 miners and produced about 3.2 million tons of coal last year.
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