Daw Mill Colliery Miners Rescued After Fire Breaks Out Underground

More than 90 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".

The colliery is not expected to be fully working again for up to six months

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 or above the mine.

A core team will now remain at the pit to bring the situation under control, but it is not expected that the mine could be restored to operational status in anything less than three to six months.

Daw Mill has been at risk of closure since March 2012 when it was announced that a restructuring was needed to safeguard its medium-term future.

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.

The incident at the colliery was raised in the House of Comons on Monday

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."

Conservative Marcus Jones raised the issue of the "serious" underground fire during a point of order in the House of Commons.

The MP for Nuneaton said: "Thankfully there have been no deaths or serious injuries as a result. However the fire which is still ablaze is causing a great deal of uncertainty and worry to over 600 people who work at the colliery.

"Notwithstanding the meetings that I intend to have with ministers - hopefully some of those later on today - will Mr Speaker you allow me to offer my support to the workers at Daw Mill and their families during this extremely difficult time?"

Speaker John Bercow replied: "I thank him and extend my sympathies and concern in the situation that he has rightly described."