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Doe Run Mine Rescue Team

The Doe Run Company
Viburnum No. 29 Mine
Equipment Fire and Rescue

Viburnum, Missouri
January 21, 2010
Killed or Injured - 0



MSHA Accident Investigation Report  

Miners Rescued

Due to a haul truck fire, three miners became trapped in the Viburnum No. 29 lead/zinc mine in Bunker, Missouri, near Viburnum. Rescue teams worked together to save them, applying what they had learned in training to a real-life test of their skills.

The U.S. Department of Laborís Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports that the miners had become trapped when a 30-ton haulage vehicle caught fire and blocked their escape route.

The rescue team included six mine rescuers from the Doe Run Company, who entered the mine via a ventilation shaft that was 60 inches wide and 580 feet deep. The trapped miners were successfully extracted with the use of a rescue escape hoist.


The Players  (those named in the report)

Trapped Miners:

Robert McClain, truck driver Timothy Yount, scaler operator
Michael Byers, loader operator


Other Miner Involved:

Jeffrey Asher, truck driver


Mine Rescuers:

Steve Setzer, Captain Wayne Marlin, Captain
Shawn Pratt Randy Hill
Andrew Hampton Brad Beck
The MSHA report is in error regarding the team captains.  They were Steve Setzer and Wayne Marlin.


Company Officials:

Allen Mercer, Mine Supervisor David Skaggs, Maint. Foreman
Gary Gilliam, Hoist Operator Ronald Dees, Electrician
Greg Sutton, Mine Manager


MSHA Officials:

Robert Seelke, Supervisory Inspector Keith Markeson, Inspector
Fred Gatewood, Assistant District Manager


Chronological Chain of Events:

6:30 am Start of the shift
10:28 am Jeffrey Asher, haul truck driver, passed the explosive storage area, smelled what he thought was hydraulic oil and then heard a grinding noise.  He observed flames coming from both sides of the engine compartment of his truck.
10:39 am After unsuccessful attempts to douse the fire with fire extinguishers, Asher went to the shop and notified David Skaggs, Maintenance Foreman, that his truck was on fire and they needed to evacuate the mine.
10:45 am Skaggs notified Gary Gilliam, Hoist Operator, and directed him to start an evacuation.  Gilliam called the MSHA emergency hotline and asked Ronald Dees, Electrician, to dump stench into the mine to notify miners of the emergency.
Meanwhile, McClain had stopped his loaded haul truck in the Czar drift at a pre-determined location to permit Asher's truck to pass when returning from the grizzly.  When Asher did not return in a reasonable time, McClain drove toward the grizzly and encountered heavy smoke.
McClain turned his truck around and traveled back to the overcut to inform Byers that Asher's truck was on fire.  He then went to get Yount at the scaler and the three miners met at the nearest "Designated Point of Safety" (DPOS).  Byers attempted to call the surface but did not get a response.  The three miners discussed their options and decided to reverse the underground fan at No. 58 ventilation hole to exhaust and prevent some of the smoke from following them to the DPOS.  Yount went to the fan in Byer' s loader and encountered smoke but succeeded in reversing the No. 58 fan before returning to the DPOS.  The three miners waited outside the DPOS to see how the air flow was reacting to the fan change.
10:58 am Allen Mercer, General Mine Supervisor, was notified of the fire.  He coordinated the underground evacuation, called for a portable escape hoist to be brought from the nearby Buick Mine then attempted to enter the Czar drift.  He encountered smoke before reaching the truck, retreated, and reversed a fan located underground at No. 52 ventilation hole to exhaust and draw smoke away from the three miners located behind the burning truck.
11:00 am McClain, Byers, and Yount noticed that smoke was still traveling toward them and decided to seal themselves in the DPOS.
Robert Seelke, Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector, was contacted by Fred Gatewood, Assistant District Manager.  Seelke called the mine for additional information and was informed three miners were trapped behind the fire.
The Doe Run mine rescue teams were mobilized at 11:00 am and started gathering their equipment at the mine rescue station located at the West Fork training facility about 25 miles away.
11:05 am Robert Seelke verbally issued a 103(j) order to Skaggs.
11:20 am Mercer evacuated by way of the main shaft and arrived on the surface.  All other underground miners, except the three blocked by the fire, were also on the surface.
11:53 am Seelke called Keith Markeson, Mine Safety and Health Inspector, who was inspecting at a nearby Doe Run mine and instructed him to get to the mine immediately and notify the district office for further instructions.  Markeson arrived at the mine, modified the 103(j) order to a 103(k) order, and established telephone communications with the district office.
Eight mine rescue team members were at the mine.
12:01 am MSHA headquarters personnel joined the conference call.
12:52 am Doe Run personnel submitted an initial rescue plan to MSHA that was approved.  The portable escape hoist had been set up and checked out at No. 64 ventilation hole.
12:59 am Seelke arrived at the mine, went to the No. 64 ventilation hole with Greg Sutton, General Mine Manager, and joined the conference call from there.
1:24 pm Steve Setzer, mine rescue team captain, and Shawn Pratt, mine rescue team member, were lowered into the mine inside a 30-inch diameter escape capsule.
1:36 pm Setzer and Pratt reached the bottom of No. 64 ventilation hole.  About that time, the mine rescue team from the Mississippi Lime Company was mobilized.
1:44 pm Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived at the mine.
2:27 pm After lowering equipment into the mine and receiving word from Setzer there was heavy smoke in the mine, management submitted a revised rescue plan.
3:01 pm After minor problems with the portable escape hoist and rope were resolved, Wayne Marlin, Mine Rescuer, and Randy Hill, Mine Rescuer, were lowered into the mine.
3:28 pm Andrew Hampton, Mine Rescuer, and Brad Beck, Mine Rescuer, were lowered into the mine.
3:41 pm After six mine rescue team members were in the mine, Pratt, Marlin, and Hill went to the DPOS.  They searched the mobile equipment parked outside the DPOS, took gas readings, then entered the DPOS and assisted the miners with their self-rescuers.
3:49 pm The three mine rescuers walked the three miners back to the bottom of No. 64 ventilation hole at a rapid pace.  Upon arrival at the bottom of the shaft, the miners donned self-contained breathing apparatus.
4:02 pm Setzer and Yount were hoisted to the surface.
4:20 pm Mississippi Lime's mine rescue team had arrived and stood by until they were utilized to recover the mine.
4:31 pm Pratt and Byers were hoisted to the surface.
4:50 pm Beck and McClain were hoisted to the surface.  The three miners were examined by EMS before they were transported to the Washington County Hospital in Potosi, Missouri.
5:30 pm The three remaining rescue team members were hoisted to the surface and the rescue was completed.



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