posted on August 04, 2010 11:49 :: 564 Views
You may have seen the news story below, courtesy of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality that was printed in several news publications across the state.
Here is video released, courtesy MT DEQ.
Helena - The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has extinguished nine underground coal fires in Eastern Montana since last fall with one more to go in the next two months.
The DEQ's Abandoned Mine Program conducted the coal mine and coal seam mitigation project in Custer, Yellowstone and Musselshell Counties. Three fires were in the Shepherd area north of Billings; another six were in the Miles City area. The remaining fire is also near Miles City.
"Some of these underground fires may be out of sight but they're not out of mind," said DEQ Director Richard Opper. "The smoldering coal seams threaten wildlife, destroy ranchland and risk starting wild land fires. They also emit polluting noxious gases and carbon-dioxide. So it was important to douse these coal fires and eliminate the safety and environmental risks they pose."
To mitigate the fires, crews excavate the burning coal seam, spread the hot material into a "quench" pit and mix it with soil and water to cool. The area is then reclaimed by backfilling the seam and revegetating the disturbed area.
The DEQ identified the coal fires a year ago with help from landowners, Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinators, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and other fire and emergency responders.
Federal abandoned mine reclamation grant money paid for the project at a cost of about $805,000.
Coal seam fires are started primarily by lightening strikes. In addition, while coal fires can trigger wild land fires, grass fires can also ignite coal seams. Note: electronic photographs and video are available upon request.