Fire out at Sunshine Mine

Main shaft spared damage from blaze that started in February

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COEUR d'ALENE - The fire officially is out at the Sunshine Mine near Kellogg, and the main operating shaft appears to have been spared from any damage.

A spokeswoman for Denver-based Sunshine Silver Mines Corp. said that crews reached the mine's 3,100-foot level where the fire started.

The crews reached that depth Tuesday after breaking a seal on the mine Saturday. All intakes feeding oxygen into the mine had to be sealed off to fight the fire.

The silver mine was evacuated on Feb. 14 after a sensor in a vent shaft detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide inside.

Company spokeswoman Monica Brisnehan said gas readings at the 3,100 level on Tuesday showed no carbon monoxide and appropriate levels of oxygen, indicating the fire is out.

"We're monitoring exhaust gases and local-area gases as we" continue inspecting the mine, she said.

She said it will take several weeks to determine the full extent of the fire's damage.

"The (Jewel) shaft and stations are the most important things we are looking at right now," she said. "It looks like there is no damage to those."

She said it's suspected that much of the damage was isolated to old mining "stopes," or tunnels.

She declined to comment on the cause of the fire.

The company is working under the guidance of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, which has rigid rules for re-entry.

"We're very happy to work in concert with them," she said.

The long-term goal of the company is to return the mine to production.

Before the fire, the company had been working on refurbishment of the mine since purchasing it in 2010.

In other company news, Sunshine Silver Mines hired a new general manager for the mine, John Kinyon. He was hired in April.

"We built up what we believe is a very strong team around him," she said.

He most recently was the general manager at the Kensington gold mine in Alaska, which is owned by Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp.

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