5 workers hurt by lightning strike at Ala. coal mine

5 workers hurt by lightning strike at Ala. coal mine

Lightning struck surface equipment at Alabama’s largest underground coal mine on Wednesday, injuring five people and forcing the company to evacuate workers.

Drummond Co. said lightning hit a drilling rig that was boring a shaft at its Shoal Creek Mine in Jefferson County, sending a charge down the steel equipment and igniting methane gas that was around the hole.

One worker had to be evacuated from the rural mine by helicopter, and four others were taken to hospitals by ambulances.

UAB Hospital said it had one Drummond worker who was listed in stable condition, and was expecting others for treatment.

The Shoal Creek mine has had repeated safety problems in recent months.

The mine was briefly shut down last week after damage to a ventilation wall, and it was closed for six months last year after methane gas ignited.

Drummond planned to close the mine, which employs about 550 people, but it decided to keep it open after reclamation efforts worked better than expected.


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