UPDATE: Fire extinguished at Pattison Sand - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Fire extinguished at Pattison Sand

Posted: Updated:
CLAYTON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Officials with an eastern Iowa sand mine say an underground fire in the mine was extinguished this weekend.

Pattison Sand Company spokeswoman Beth Regan said professional contract firms helped extinguish the fire and were monitoring air quality and other environmental concerns around the mine as a result of the fire, which started after a welding spark migrated to plastic piping last week.

Pattison's consultants said smoke particle readings were "below levels of public health concern," according to Alan Nye, a senior toxicologist from Arkansas that Pattison had hired.

Another consultant, Chip Day from Texas, said the smoke was similar to diesel smoke and called the fire a "minimal event," according to Pattison.

No injuries were reported in the mine fire, and Pattison said they expect production to resume this week.

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Officials at a Clayton County sand mine now say a fire they believed to be small and extinguished on Wednesday morning was actually still smoldering as of Friday, and was more serious than they had originally believed.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said heavy smoke on the "Mississippi River side" of the mine had been burning since Thursday night, when it flared up.

The DNR said conveyor belts and plastic piping were among the items burning. They also said that tires and fertilizer on the property were stored in an entirely separate area and were not at risk of catching fire.

According to Pattison Sand spokeswoman Beth Regan, an equipment fire in the underground Pattison Sand mine prompted the Garnavillo Fire Department to be called.

Firefighters were on scene for about three hours, Regan said Friday.

Regan now says it appears that piping materials used in the slurry operations ignited, causing the fire. She also said the fire continues to smolder.

Regan said the mine manager, Bill Baudais, said the situation continues to be assessed with the help of Mine Safety and Health Administration.

There continue to be no injuries as a result of the fire. Those in the area of Pattison are encouraged to stay away from heavy smoke or burning odors and to stay upwind if possible.

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A small fire at a Clayton County sand mine Thursday morning resulted in mining operations to be shut down for the next couple of days.

No miners were injured at Pattison Sand Company and all exited the mine safely, according to Beth Regan, public relations coordinator for Pattison.

The fire began at around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday as a result of a welding spark that igniting a piece of mining equipment, according to Regan.

Regan said she believed the fire was immediately put out, but all miners exited and the mine will be shut down in accordance with Mining Safety and Health Administration guidelines.

The fire was reported to MSHA and the mine was closed Thursday. Regan expects the mine to reopen once MSHA completes their investigation, which may take 36 to 48 hours.

Pattison Sand is an underground sandstone mining operation producing industrial sand for the natural gas and oil companies. It employs around 190 people.

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