Miners successfully rescued from PotashCorp mine in Rocanville – Canadian Press (Saskatoon Star Phoenix – September 25, 2012)posted in Canadian/International Media Resource Articles, Saskatchewan Mining, Still to file |
ROCANVILLE, Sask. — After spending a day trapped underground by a fire at a Saskatchewan potash mine, electrician Darwyn Wirth knew exactly what he wanted to do.
“I think I’m going to go and have a cold beer,” he told reporters shortly after he and 19 of his colleagues were brought safely back to the surface.
The blaze broke out at about 2 a.m. Tuesday when a large wooden cable spool started burning at PotashCorp.’s Rocanville mine, about 244 kilometres east of Regina.
There was no panic, said the miners, who immediately headed to four separate refuge stations scattered throughout the facility.
“We have an alarm system with loud bells and flashing red lights, and you immediately go to a refuge station and call the control room so they know where you are,” said Wirth.
It took about 10 hours to extinguish the fire, but it took several more hours for crews to determine it was safe to bring the workers up.
“It’s a matter of cooling the area down and ventilating the air,” said Bill Cooper, spokesman for PotashCorp.
“There’s kilometres of tunnels underground and just the way the ventilation system works, it’s got to clear all that out. The air quality’s got to be at a point where it’s safe to take people to the surface.”
So the miners sat and waited at the refuge stations — large rooms that are sealed off from the rest of the mine and have air, water and canned food for several days.
The rooms are comfortable, though not really posh.
“There’s no place to sleep,” said Wirth, who laughed when told another group had passed the time by playing cards.
“We didn’t have a deck of cards. We really would have liked a deck of cards.”
Originally, 29 men were trapped but nine of them were brought up earlier in the day.
There are four mine rescue teams at Rocanville, each with five people. Cooper said they take turns trying to put out a fire.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix website: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Employees+safe+fire+extinguished+PotashCorp+mine/7296266/story.html