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6 workers injured in silo fire at Thermo mine

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5 transported to burn unit in Dallas

    A fire and coal dust explosion in a silo at the Luminant’s Thermo mine just after 4 p.m. Wednesday resulted in serious injuries to six people.
    According to Hopkins County Fire Chief Kevin Yates, a fire had been burning for about a year in the silo. A Luminant contractor had been working to extinguish the fire.
    Yates said he had been at the mine Tuesday when contractors had been working to put out the fire up to the point the fire was thought to have been extinguished. Yates said he knew nothing else about the mine until he received the emergency call reporting an industrial type accident.
    “I asked for further information and was told several hundred tons of coal and hot material had dropped on top of about five individuals,” Yates said. “At that point, I converted in it from a medical call to a fire call knowing about the explosive hazards of coal dust.”
    The county fire department, along with two volunteer fire departments responded to the Thermo mine site just off County Road 2309.
    “When I got there, I found six individuals that had been injured, five of which had been burned and one suffering from coal dust inhalation,” Yates said.
    In a statement issued Thursday morning, Luminant Energy said the six employees were in the vicinity of an out of service lignite storage silo, where they came into contact with hot debris.
    “The workers sustained burns to their hands and legs,” the statement said. “They were given immediate treatment at the scene and then transported to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital. One employee was treated and released and the remaining five were transported to Parkland in Dallas where they are listed in stable condition.”
    Luminant declined to identify the injured employees citing concerns for family privacy and company policy.
    Two of the injured were identified by family members.
    James Williams was reported in the intensive care unit at Parkland Hospital with burns over 30 to 40 percent of his body and Zach Reeves was said to be in stable condition with burns to his hands and upper body.
    A Luminant spokesman said the incident has been reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is responsible for monitoring compliance with mine safety regulations and is investigating the incident.
    Yates said he met with Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives on the site and decided, along with the safety manager and plant operations manager, there was no reason to risk further injury to try and extinguish the fire since the blaze had been isolated within a secure area of the mine,.
    Although there has been no active mining at Thermo location for months, Luminant plans to resume mining at Thermo in the fall and some activities related to preparing the site to restart active mining have been taking place.

Play Date

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Timothy Ramos (center) stands in formation during Sulphur Springs High School band practice Wednesday morning. The band is rehearsing several marching formations for the upcoming football season.

Staff Photo Jon Lance


Trustee election registration ongoing at county schools

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    Five rural county school districts are accepting applications for candidacy for their Nov. 3 trustees election.


Cumby hosting Meet the Trojans

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    Cumby Independent School District administrators invite students, parents and community members to the school Friday for a special event.


Park Wisely

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By KERRY CRAIG News-Telegram Staff Writer This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it We see them in almost every parking lot — those spaces with the blue signs and markings on the pavement with a symbol of a person in a wheelchair. And we know they are reserved for those with a medically diagnosed handicap that have either the state-issued handicap license plates or the placard that hangs from the rear-view mirrow. But how about that person that is in a rush to run inside a business for just a second and there is an empty parking space reserved for the handicapped? It just might be the most expensive quick trip into a store a person could ever make. To try to enforce the handicapped parking rules, Sulphur Springs Police Dpartment makes a special effort. “We actually have a team that comes in on a voluntary basis,” said SSPD Chief Jay Sanders. “They work sometimes once a week or a couple times a week and they will go out and that’s all they do — work handicap violations.” These parking spaces are required by the Americans with Disabilitles Act just as the placards and markings for those parking spaces enable those disabled people easier access to stores, restaurants and, in many cases, the places they live. The volunteer team, when they find a violation, will issue a citation and take a picture of the offending vehicle in the parking place. The ticket will be left under the windshield wiper. “The original goes under the wiper,” Sanders said. “The volunteer brings the copy to the police department with the picture, and we send that over to the court. The court handles it from there.” Once the ticket gets to the city’s municipal court, parking in a handicapped parking place without the license plate or placard becomes very expensive, according to City Attorney Jim McLeroy, who also serves as prosecutor. “The minimum fine is $500 and the maximum fine is $750 plus court costs that, typically, are $99 on those tickets,” McLeroy said. “The second offense, if it's proven you've been previously convicted of the same offense, the minimum fine goes up to $550. So, it's an expensive ticket to get.” There, too, is another side to the handicapped parking space reservations. They must have the correct sign posted the correct way and the pavement must also be marked in order for the rules to be properly enforced. “For us, we see it a lot more in different parking lots,” Sanders said. “We see it a lot more at Walmart than we do at Brookshire’s. We see it a lot more on the Spring Village parking lot than we do at Walmart.” Sanders said years ago, a lot of citations were issued for parking in these reserved spaces without the placard or license plate but, times and things have changed. “Spring Village, we used to write a lot of tickets on Spring Village,” Chief Sanders said. “Now, the handicapped spots are so unreadable that it is very difficult for us to enforce. They need to be fixed and, of course, that’s the property owner. He’s in charge of making sure that he complies with his ADA regulations.” Sanders said the majority of the complaints the police department receives are about the Walmart parking lot. “Obviously, there are more cars at Walmart than any other place in town,” he said. “You’ve got more traffic there than anywhere else in town. “Very seldom do we ever have any at Brookshire’s, very seldom,” Sanders continued. “We get a few calls occasionally at Lowe’s, but, they are very well marked, too.” Without the proper signs and marking, enforcement is very difficult if not impossible, according to the city attorney. “You have to have a placard on a sign and you also have to have a marking on the pavement,” the attorney explained. “If you don’t mark your handicapped places marked correctly, I can’t prosecute the ticket. I can’t convict somebody of an offense if, in fact, the elements of the offense, and that element is if they were parked illegally in a handicapped space — if it’s not properly marked. I can’t prove that case and we would have to dismiss it.”

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