Conveyer belt catches fire at Tunnel Ridge Mine facility

WHEELING – Emergency crews said no one was injured in a small fire Tuesday afternoon at Tunnel Ridge Mine’s Ohio River loadout facility north of Wheeling.

The fire began just before 3:30 p.m. at the loadout facility, where unearthed coal feeds into three silos with a collective capacity of 28,000 tons that tower over state Route 2 about 2 miles north of Pike Island Locks and Dam.

According to the Clearview Fire Department, the blaze was small and members of Tunnel Ridge’s safety team were able to put out the flames on their own. The fire occurred in a conveyor belt but the exact cause is unclear, firefighters said.

For a time, a small amount of smoke could be seen issuing from between the newer and smaller pair of the three silos. Emergency crews remained at the loadout facility for about two hours.

In addition to Clearview, responding agencies included the Wheeling and West Liberty fire departments. Representatives from the Mine Safety and Health Administration also reportedly were on scene.

Mine officials could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Tunnel Ridge is a longwall mine owned by Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners. Its reserve contains an estimated 100 million tons of coal beneath 9,400 acres located in Ohio County and Washington County, Pa.

Incidental production at the mine, which has its main office on Battle Run Road in Triadelphia, started in 2010. Its longwall operations began in May 2012, according to the company’s website.