CUCUMBER, W.Va. (AP) - A preliminary investigation shows a roof fall killed two miners in a southern West Virginia coal mine. Brooks Run Mining Company says Saturday morning's roof fall at its Cucumber Mine was localized to the area where 48-year-old James D-Thomas of North Tazwell, Virginia, and 33-year-old Pete Poindexter of Rock, West Virginia, were working.
The two men were engaged in a mining practice called retreat mining when the roof fall occurred. At the time of the accident, 36 miners were working.
Retreat mining is conducted when miners back out of a mined-out section. As they back out, miners remove pillars of coal that had been used to support the mine's roof.
Thomas had worked as a roof bolter at the mine since last July. Poindexter had been employed as a utility man at the mine since last May.
The mine began operating last January and employs 114 people. Brooks Run is a subsidiary of Abingdon, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources.
Thomas and Poindexter are the first coal mining deaths in West Virginia this year, and the second and third in the nation since January First.
Brooks Run Mining Company Issues Follow-Up Statement on Mining Accident:
ABINGDON, Va., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Brooks Run Mining Company, LLC has released additional details on the mining accident that occurred Saturday morning at its Cucumber, W. Va. underground coal mine which resulted in two fatalities.
At approximately 10:45 a.m. on January 13, two miners on the day shift were engaged in retreat mining, removing coal as they backed out of a developed panel approximately one and a half miles inside the entrance of the Cucumber mine. Preliminary indications are that a localized section of the mine roof unexpectedly collapsed and fell on the miners. Both men were fatally injured in the fall.
At the time of the accident there were 36 employees working at the mine. All personnel were evacuated from the mine and no other injuries were suffered from the localized roof collapse.
The two miners who died in the accident were James D. Thomas, 48, of North Tazewell, Va., and Pete Poindexter, 33, of Rock, W. Va. Thomas had worked at the Cucumber mine as a roof bolter since July 2006 and Poindexter had worked at the mine as a utility man since May 2006.
Brooks Run officials contacted the Mine Health and Safety Administration immediately after the accident and an investigation has commenced involving MSHA, company officials and representatives of the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.
"We're extremely saddened by this tragic accident," said Randy McMillion, Brooks Run president. "Right now our full attention is directed toward attending to the miners' families and their co-workers, as well as providing our full cooperation to the ongoing investigation."
The Cucumber mine began operating in January 2006 and produced approximately 380,000 tons of coal last year. The mine employs 114 people.