Two Miners Trapped After Trying To Escape Fire - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/20/06-Logan, WV

Two Miners Trapped After Trying To Escape Fire

Rescue teams were searching a West Virginia coal mine early Friday for two miners separated from their crew as they were escaping a fire, officials said.

The fire was reported Thursday night at the Aracoma Mine in Logan County, West Virginia, about 60 miles southwest of Charleston.

A crew of 12 was working in the mine when a monitor went off at 5:36 p.m., indicating a fire, according to Doug Conaway, director of the West Virginia Office of Miner's Health, Safety and Training.

Ten miners exited the mine about two hours later, he said.

Four mine rescue teams were working underground trying to reach the two miners, Conaway said. Two other teams were on standby and more were en route, he said.

The fire was about 10,000 feet inside the mine and about 900 to 1,000 feet underground, he said.

"The air quality has been pretty good," said Conaway, referring to the area where the searchers were able to reach. The team did encounter some smoke in another area, and the fire was smoldering, he said.

The mine's ventilation system was working "as far as we can tell," he said later, adding there was no reason for it to stop operating.

A belt drive was believed to have caught on fire, Conaway and a spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin said.

The governor said the two miners' names and ages were not released at the request of the families involved.

"Time is not our friend," said Manchin. "The longer the time goes, the more difficult it becomes, so we're concerned about that."

The incident happened less than a month after the disaster at the Sago Mine in Tallmansville where 12 miners died. The only survivor remained hospitalized Friday.

Unlike with Sago, "we have a difference this time," said Manchin. "We don't have an explosion, which is good news."

And although carbon monoxide is always present in a mine fire, he said, levels were "nowhere near what they were in the Sago Mine."

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