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Two fires in weeks trigger probe at mine

Investigators are looking into the cause of a second fire in three weeks at the Lucky Friday Mine.

The underground silver mine near Mullan, Idaho, was evacuated at 7 p.m. Tuesday after a contract employee reported he smelled smoke.

Hecla Mining Co. deployed three mine rescue teams to monitor the fire and prevent its spread. They were able to contain the fire to a small area on the 4900 level, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The fire was extinguished around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Underground workers were able to return to work Wednesday evening, said Melanie Hennessey, Hecla’s vice president of investor relations.

Three weeks earlier, on July 5, another small fire was reported at the Lucky Friday Mine. The cause of that fire remains under investigation. Officials declined to say whether arson is suspected.

The July 5 fire “is being looked at in context to this fire in case there may be a connection,” MSHA said in a statement.

The investigation team includes Hecla, the state fire marshal, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Department and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The Lucky Friday Mine was in the news earlier this year as the result of an April 15 cave-in that killed a miner.

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