More than 100 miners escaped safely at Daw Mill colliery but the future of the site is now in doubt, says UK Coal
More than 100 miners at a closure-threatened colliery have been safely evacuated after a severe underground fire.
The operators of Daw Mill colliery in north Warwickshire said the blaze was on a scale not seen for decades and had put the future of the pit “seriously in doubt”.
UK Coal Mine Holdings confirmed that 92 underground workers were evacuated from the mine after the fire broke out at about 3.30pm on Friday.
In a statement, the company said: “The fire began at a depth of 540m (1,772ft) and a distance of 8km (5 miles) from the bottom of the main shaft.
“As a precaution, UK Coal safely evacuated 92 underground workers from the mine in accordance with standard emergency procedures.
“A specialised team of 14 underground workers, trained in firefighting, remained at the scene to extinguish the fire.
“However, at approximately 7.30pm on Friday evening, due to the increasing severity of the situation, it became clear to mine management that all remaining miners should be evacuated from the mine.”
In its statement, UK Coal Holdings said there was no risk or impact from the incident to residents living close to the site.
A team will now remain at the pit to bring the situation under control, but it is expected that the mine will be out of action for around three to six months.
A restructuring of UK Coal in 2012 achieved “medium-term security” for the mine, providing it was able to produce coal safely, reliably and efficiently.
But the statement issued on Monday said last week’s fire had put Daw Mill’s security “seriously in doubt” and would lead to talks on the implications for its remaining workforce.
Commenting on the incident, Kevin McCullough, chief executive of UK Coal, said: “This fire is on a scale not seen for decades.
“I want to thank everyone in the mine that day for their professionalism and commitment.
“From the mine workers that fought the fire initially to the mine management team that evacuated all workers safely, everyone played their part.
“The suddenness of the fire and its ferocity is something we train for and hope never to see, so the safe evacuation of over 100 miners is something the whole team can be proud of.”