A methane gas explosion shook a coal mine in Kentucky on Wednesday afternoon. Authorities confirmed that the worker who fell down an elevator shaft following the blast was killed. The 62-year-old welder and ironworker was preparing the shaft to be filled with concrete. Known as Paradise Mine No. 9, the mine is in Bremen, Kentucky and has been inactive for months. The man’s work was a part of efforts to close it.
The worker fell down the 380-foot shaft, which has water at the bottom. No one is certain what caused the explosion, and state officials have said that methane gas explosions like this one are not common. However, NBC News reported that a lack of proper ventilation could have caused the explosion. Officials are struggling to recover the victim’s body because of the unique qualities of the incident and its location.
KenAmerican Resources, Inc. owns the mine and shut it down last February because of market conditions. The worker was an employee of Fricke Management & Contracting. It is currently unclear if the man was wearing a safety harness at the time of the blast.
Why is the Elevator Shaft Rescue Challenging?
John Mura, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet, said that responders are concerned over “dangerous levels of methane gas in the shaft.” They are using ventilating tubes to lower methane levels. Mura stated that “there is still no way to get a person down the shaft” to recover the victim. As of Friday evening, Mura stated that the ventilation was not working and that crews are exploring other options. Rescuers were able to shine a high-powered light down the shaft but were unable to see anything at the bottom.
"The Mine Safety and Health Administration offers its deepest condolences to the victim’s family. Officials are working swiftly in the recovery effort and have installed a fan to establish ventilation in the mine shaft to remove explosive gas quantities. Once it is determined that the area is safe, recovery efforts can continue," said Amy Louviere of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Our Kentucky explosion attorneys will follow any updates to this story.