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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Canadian Potash Mine Fire

72 miners were trapped underground by a fire. Event lasted 30 hours.

When the fire broke out at 3am on a Sunday, the miners sought safety in ‘emergency refuge rooms’. Firefighters fought the blaze, then cleared the smoke from the underground mine.

The size of the mine was extensive – ranging 18.6 x 12 miles. This delayed the rescue of the final 5 miners. All 72 miners were rescued, unscathed. The miners survived with oxygen, food and water that had been stored in subterranean emergency chambers at the mine in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. As in the Sago mine disaster, the tunnels were filled with toxic smoke. However, in this instance the miners were sealed in their emergency cover with enough air to outlast the ordeal, plus food and water.

Furthermore, mine workers followed safety procedures to the letter, and rescue teams performed expertly. Even while the miners were still trapped underground, they were able to communicate from their safe rooms to the surface, and tell them they were ok. Rescue workers were able to concentrate on the fire at hand, and what was necessary to clear toxic smoke from the tunnels, so that the miners could exit safely.

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