On Tuesday morning a vehicle caught fire in the Kiruna mine. The entrance to the mine was closed, according to safety procedures, and emergency services personnel arrived quickly at the site to extinguish the fire.
Just after 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday an alarm was issued when a vehicle caught fire on road 22 above the new 1365 main level in the Kiruna mine. Municipal emergency services were summoned to the site and the entrance to the mine was closed. LKAB's emergency services personnel had already begun the firefighting and rescue operation. More than 400 people were in the mine while the fire was being extinguished. Most were in locations with access to rescue rooms, where they remained for the time being. Since a number of people were still present at overlying levels along road 22, initial rescue efforts were made to evacuate personnel at the same time as the firefighting operation began.
Just after 10.30 a.m. notification was given that the fire had been extinguished. In accordance with safety procedures, emergency services personnel checked all levels along road 22. Ambulances were brought to the site.
"The rescue operation went very well and personnel have acted responsibly. Within LKAB, we strive to uphold a zero-accidents policy. Safety has the highest priority. Every accident that occurs is a failure for LKAB," said Hans Engberg, mine general manager in Kiruna.
According to a statement from Norrbotten County Council, 27 people were treated at the hospital in Kiruna in connection with the fire. Of these, 12 people were admitted to hospital; three remained for observation in the intensive-care unit and nine in the medical unit. Two people were taken by ambulance to Gällivare Hospital and one person was airlifted by helicopter to Gällivare Hospital. No life-threatening injuries were reported.
The Kiruna mine was reopened at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday. Thereafter, production was successfully resumed.
"Underground fires are always serious, but we have a high degree of preparedness for managing this type of situation and our procedures have worked well," said Hans Engberg.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way. In addition, the chain of events, rescue efforts and communications are also being reviewed in order to learn from the experience.
Update at 3 p.m Wednesday 25 june.
Norrbotten County Council reported that all of the patients who were admitted to hospital in Kiruna in connection with the fire in LKAB's mine have now been discharged. Of the three patients who were taken to hospital in Gällivare, two have been discharged. The third person was returned to Kiruna for admission to hospital.