Underground fire sees coal mine evacuation

 An underground longwall fire has seen the evacuation of a New South Wales coal mine.

According to the NSW Department of Trade and Investment’s safety report the fire broke out in the longwall goaf following the ignition of gas.

When contacted, the Department declined to name the mine for legal reasons.

It stated that the incident occurred while an afternoon shift crew was carrying out maintenance on the longwall earlier this year.

Midway through the shift "there was an air blast of sufficient force to knock the fitter over and be strongly felt by the crew at the main gate.

"This was followed by a significant reversal of air."

The mine safety report goes on to state that the mine deputy went to the tailgate and found a fire erupting from the tailgate goaf.

The deputy quickly evacuated the unit and alerted the control to evacuate the rest of the mine.

A severe lightening storm was noted at the time of the incident.

Speaking to the Department of Trade and Investment, they confirmed that no one was injured in the incident.

The longwall panel was the first to be worked in this particular seam.

The seam itself was reported to contain significant amounts of methane, however the mine does have a drainage system with both pre- and post-drainage in place.

An investigation into the cause of the incident, and the response, is underway.

A massive underground fire at Xstrata’s Blakefield South coal mine was called by a methane leak, as was the Pike River Coal disaster, which occured just over one year ago.


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