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District 8 - Coal Mine Safety and Health
Info-Grams and Close Call Accidents

Close Call Graphic
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration

Accident Info-Gram

Underground Belt Drive Fire

On October 15, 2001, a conveyor belt fire occurred at a belt drive unit in a District 8 Mine. The 48-inch conveyor belt burned almost entirely across its width except for approximately two inches. The fire deluge hose and fire sensor control cables were also damaged.
    A mine examiner, while conducting an examination, became aware that the belts had stopped. While traveling toward one of the drive units, he began to smell smoke approximately two breaks from the drive unit. When he arrived at the drive unit area, he encountered heavy smoke. He disconnected the belt drive unit from its power. While remaining low to stay under the thickest portion of the smoke, he obtained a fire extinguisher and put out the fire that was located between the two drive rollers. Other miners arrived and cooled the area with a fire hose.
    The cause of the fire was determined to be coal spillage at the discharge head of the belt conveyor, which was located approximately 100 feet from the drive unit, and loose coal was running back on the bottom belt. The fire suppression and fire sensor systems activated. Heat was generated because loose coal had accumulated in the drive rollers. The temperature of the area around the belt drive increased until the nearby deluge system fire sensor activated which caused the conveyor belt to stop. Sequence switches stopped all inby conveyor belts. Although a spill switch was provided at the coal transfer point, it was too far away from the spill area and was not activated by the coal spillage surrounding the drive unit.

Belt Drive

  • Properly maintain all conveyor belt discharge heads in good condition to minimize coal spillage.
  • Provide and properly locate spill switches at all coal transfer locations.
  • Loose coal should be removed frequently from conveyor drive areas to eliminate any fire or friction sources.
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This file was last updated on 1/28/2003

This information was provided by concerned miners in an effort to eliminate accidents. Accident or "close call" information within District 8 may be shared by contacting the MSHA office at (812) 882-7617.