Million gallons pumped into mine to quench fire

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More than a million gallons of water have been pumped into Consol Energy's Blacksville No. 2 deep mine in the Pittsburgh coal seam on the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border in an effort to extinguish the underground fire burning there since Tuesday, company officials said Friday.

The fire has idled 650 coal miners.

Borehole cameras have been placed in three locations, but officials said they have not determined the precise location or size of the fire. They also can't say when idled workers can return to the mine.

"It's all up in the air right now," said Consol spokeswoman Lynn Seay. "Until it's safe to do so, we're not sending anybody back in."

Smoke was first spotted coming from the Orndoff shaft, which is used primarily as a ventilation shaft, near Wayne in Greene County, on Tuesday afternoon. All 121 day-shift underground workers were evacuated without injury through the Kuhntown portal, Consol officials said. The area where the fire is believed to be located is not in the active working section of the mine.

Consol officials began pumping water into the Orndoff shaft on Thursday afternoon, then followed up with pumping in additional water through a borehole near that shaft early Friday afternoon. A second borehole has been drilled into the mine, which lies approximately 1,000 feet below the surface, and it will be cased, grouted and operated as a monitoring location, according to Consol officials.

Borehole casing designed to protect groundwater is being installed in a third borehole, which will be used to pump additional water into the mine. A fourth borehole pierced the mine this morning, officials said, while drilling continues on a fifth location and drilling was to begin on a sixth borehole Friday night.

Initially, water was trucked to the mine shaft. Consol officials have since installed a pump and water line, with a second pump and line expected to be installed Friday night, to pump water from a nearby pond. Pipes also have been installed to collect wastewater from the firefighting operation, Ms. Seay said.

region - neigh_washington

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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