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Western District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc., ID No. 26-01089
Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc.
Carlin, Eureka County, Nevada

April 4, 1995


Michael J. Drussel
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Juan Wilmoth
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Western District Office
3333 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 600
Vacaville, CA 95688
Fred M. Hansen
District Manager


James Vivian, a 49 year old truck driver, was fatally injured April 4, 1995, at approximately 8:45 P.M., when the truck he was operating caught on fire. Vivian had almost five years of mining experience with the last three and one half years as a truck driver.

Inspector Michael J. Drussel, of the MSHA Elko Field station, was notified of the accident by Terry Browning, Senior Director, Loss Control, Barrick Goldstrike Mines, April 5, 1995, at 7:20 A.M. An investigation was begun the same day.

Barrick Goldstrike Mine, owned and operated by Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc., was a surface gold mine located 28 miles north of Carlin, Eureka County, Nevada. The mine operated two 12 hour shifts, seven days a week. There were 1550 employees at the site.

The mine was an open pit, multiple bench operation. Ore was drilled and blasted and then transported from the pit on 190 ton haul trucks. Depending on its grade, the ore was crushed and milled or hauled to a cyanide leach pad for processing.

Principal operating officials at this property were:

Charles R. Geary, Vice President and General Manager
Terry Browning, Senior Director, Loss Control.

The mine trained its employees in accordance with a plan approved by MSHA February 17, 1983 and updated January 24, 1995.

The last regular inspection was completed December 21, 1994.


The diesel/electric haul truck, involved in the accident, was a 190 ton Dresser Haul Pack, Model 685E, serial number GF31984AFE43-AC, company number MD 513. The truck's rear wheels were driven by two 1000 hp. electric motors. These diesel/electric trucks had a history of fires occurring in the drive motors.

The truck was equipped with an automatic fire suppression system.

Automatic activation was initiated by a battery operated control unit located in the cab behind the operator. This system utilized a monitoring wire in the engine compartment to detect a fire. When the temperature reached 356 degrees, the monitoring wire would signal the controller to discharge retardant into the engine compartment. After the system was activated, a small light would flash on the control panel and beeping sounds would be emitted.

Fire retardant could also be liberated manually from inside the operator's cab or at ground level near the ladder to the cab. Activating the system did not shut down the engine or provide protection to the wheel drive motors.

Inspection of the fire supression system following the accident showed that the firing mechanism and manual actuator were spent and the system's three 25-pound tanks of retardant were empty. Plastic protective caps, from the spray nozzles, found under the truck and fire retardant in the recessed areas of the motor compartment and on the ground provided additional evidence that the system had activated.

Training given to the truck drivers did not address the issue of continued engine operation when the fire suppression system was automatically activated. Some drivers interviewed were under the impression that the fire suppression system would shut down the truck.

Fire damage in the engine compartment was centered at the top of the diesel engine and in the area above it. A hole was burned through the connecting pipe between the low pressure and high pressure turbocharger. The burn pattern in the engine compartment pointed to an area of the park brake hydraulic line where it changed from pipe to hose. The park brake hydraulic system, which contained 10W oil with a flash point of 410 degrees fahrenheit, operated at 2500 psi. This brake line was removed and tested with a hydraulic hand pump. A small hole was located, approximately 1/2 inch below the hose connection, that dripped hydraulic oil at working pressure. This pressure could not be maintained with the hand pump. When an electric hydraulic pump was connected to the pipe, a fine stream was detected spraying in the direction of the top of the engine and the turbocharger connecting pipe. Operating temperatures in the turbocharger area were in excess of 500 degrees.

At the time of the investigation, the truck controls were in the following positions:

The ignition switch was on,
The parking brake was off,
The direction switch was in the forward position.

Oil spots and burned pieces of plastic wire wraps were found on the dump, along the route the truck had traveled.

Visual examination of the dump area revealed that the truck had rolled forward about two feet from the berm.


James Vivian started work at 7:00 p.m., his regular starting time.

Morris Cunliffe, General Shift Supervisor, assigned Vivian to operate haul truck #513 hauling ore and waste from the pit to various dump locations. At about 8:30 p.m., Vivian was hauling a load of waste from shovel #141 at the 4880 First Layback location to the 5700 Bazza Dump. When Vivian arrived at the dumping location, Chris Krauz was on a Caterpillar D10 dozer pushing the dumped material and spotting trucks. James Roybal was grading the dump with a Caterpillar grader. Vivian positioned his truck next to the dozer and began backing to the berm. Krauz noticed what appeared to be white smoke coming from the area of the truck's drive wheels. He radioed to Vivian that he had a fire in one of his drive motors. As Krauz was backing his dozer away, a fire erupted from the truck's engine compartment totally engulfing the operator's cab. Vivian was seen leaving the cab and then lost from view until he was on the ground with his clothes on fire. Krauz radioed the mine dispatcher and then went to aid Vivian who was rolling on the ground, extinguishing the flames. When Krauz and Roybal reached Vivian the flames were out and he was moaning. A call was made for the Barrick Ambulance.

Paul Carlyle, an EMT, arrived at the scene and began treating Vivian, who was alert and able to stand. Vivian walked to a van and was transported to meet the ambulance. He then walked from the van to the ambulance and was transported to Elko General Hospital, Elko, Nevada. From there, Vivian was transferred to the burn unit at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, with second and third degree burns over 80% of his body He died the following day, April 5, 1995.


The accident was caused by the failure of a hydraulic line which permitted oil to be sprayed on a hot surface and ignite.

The initial fire probably started before the truck reached the dump site, and was suppressed when the retardant was automatically released. The retardant may have been the white smoke seen by the dozer operator.

The warning light for the fire suppression system was not located where it could be easily seen and the audio alarm may not have been distinguished from backup alarms operating in the area.

Continued operation of the engine may have caused re-ignition, as oil continued to spray on the hot surface.

The operator may have believed that the fire was at a wheel motor and attempted to move the truck away from the dump berm rather than quickly evacuating the cab.


The following order and citations were issued during this investigation:

  1. 103(k), Order No. 4140251 issued To Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc. to insure that no work is done on, or around, the haul truck until MSHA completes its investigation.

  2. Citation No. 4140252, 104(a), 30 CFR 50.10, issued to Barrick Goldstrike MInes, Inc. A fire occurred on haul truck No. 513 at 2045 Hours on April 4, 1995. This fire seriously injured the operator. The company did not notify MSHA of this accident until 0720 Hours on April 5, 1995.

  3. Citation No. 4140253, 104(a), 30 CFR 56.4201(a)(5), issued to Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc. A fire occurred on haul truck No. 513 resulting in the death of the operator. The fire suppression system operated during the fire. The system was last inspected in February of 1994. Regulations require that the inspection be completed at least once every twelve months.

Respectively submitted by:

/S/Michael J. Drussel
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

/S/Juan Wilmoth
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Fred M. Hansen, Manager Western District
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95M14]

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