March 5, 2006

Man dies in stack fire at W. Virginia power plant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A construction worker died in a
smokestack fire at a West Virginia power plant on Saturday and
three others were plucked by helicopter from the structure
while it still burned, authorities said.

"We have successfully rescued three individuals who were
trapped on top of the stack; unfortunately we have one
fatality," Marshall County Sheriff John Gruzinskas told

The three rescued workers were in stable condition when
they were transferred to medical helicopters and flown to a
Pittsburgh hospital, he said. The body of the fourth worker had
not yet been recovered because the fire was still burning, he

The coal-fired plant near Moundsville, West Virginia, is
owned by American Electric Power. The stack was still under
construction and the plant remained operating throughout the
incident, Gruzinskas said.

The workers were coating the inside of the stack with
fiberglass resin when the fire erupted, possibly caused by a
space heater, Gruzinskas said.

The rescue, he said, "would have been heroic under any
conditions, but it was at night, the stack was still on fire;
it's just amazing."

A series of accidents killed 16 coal miners in West
Virginia earlier this year.