Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
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
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.
- Properly maintain all conveyor belt discharge heads in good
condition to minimize coal spillage.
- Provide and properly locate spill switches at all coal
- Loose coal should be removed frequently from conveyor drive
areas to eliminate any fire or friction sources.
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.