U. S. Extinguishes Mine Fires
More than 120 million tons of coal have been saved by the Bureau of Mines program of extinguishing fires in U. S. coal mines since 1949.
Some of the fires have been burning for a generation.
At current market prices, it is estimated that the coal saved is worth $500 million. The cost to the Federal Government has been about one million dollars, Secretary of the Interior Oscar L. Chapman said.
More important, at this stage of international tensions, is the savings effected in this strategic material, so important to defense and defense supporting activities.
Since Congress authorized the fire control work in the 1949 fiscal year, a total of 21 projects have been undertaken. Many of the fires threatened buildings and lands, and the noxious gases created health hazards.
Fires on public domain were controlled entirely at Federal Government expense. Two-thirds of the expense for controlling fires on private, state and county lands was home by the Government.
Although the Bureau of Mines selects the fire projects after detailed surveys, the actual work is done by earth-moving contractors on the basis of low bids submitted to the Bureau.
Three methods are used to extinguish the fires.
One method involves spreading a blanket of earth about 10 feet thick over the burning area to exclude oxygen from the fire. Another method is to isolate the fire by digging a trench entirely around it and back-filling the trench with clay.
The method used in deep underground workings is to introduce silt through boreholes.