Fire Fighting in Canada

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Potash mine fire caused by overheated wooden spool

Oct. 18, 2012, Saskatoon – Investigators believe they have confirmed the cause of a potash mine fire that forced 20 workers to hole up underground for the better part of a day.

October 18, 2012
By The Canadian Press

Oct. 18, 2012, Saskatoon – Investigators believe they have confirmed the cause of a potash mine fire that forced 20 workers to hole up underground for the better part of a day.

No one was hurt when the blaze erupted at PotashCorp's mine near Rocanville, Sask., last month, about 245 kilometres east of Regina.

But it was 18 hours before the workers could leave refuge stations and safely return to the surface.

Damage was minimal.

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The Saskatoon-based company says a wooden cable spool overheated as it was dragged through the mine.

Spokesman Bill Cooper says the company is deciding whether to switch to steel spools or change how they're transported through the mines.

"We believe the cause of fire was friction between a skid plate carrying the cable reel and the ground," Cooper said. "They get dragged from the mine entrance to where they're stored, which is about 16 kilometres underground, and it eventually caught fire."

A final report will be submitted to Saskatchewan's Mine Safety Unit. Cooper believes that will be the end of it, since all safety procedures were followed.