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Smoking Miner Charged With Risking Catastrophe

WAYNESBURG, Pa. (AP) - A coal miner was charged Thursday with risking a catastrophe and the lives of his co-workers by smoking a cigarette inside a mine.

The state attorney general's office filed charges against Donald D. Adams Jr. for an August incident inside the Emerald Mine in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Police said other miners smelled the smoke, found a spent cigarette butt and then encountered Adams nearby. More than 100 miners were working at the time, and there was potentially flammable methane gas in the mine.

A mine official asked Adams if the cigarette was his, according to charging documents, and Adams "nodded affirmatively." Adams was immediately suspended, was escorted from the property and was fired about two weeks later.

Adams denied it to police investigators in a Jan. 8 interview, court records show. He faces charges of reckless endangerment, risking a catastrophe and a violation of the coal mine safety law.

Court officials said Adams did not have a defense attorney on file, and telephone messages left on numbers linked to him were not immediately returned Thursday.

Adams, of Spraggs, was released on $50,000 unsecured bail, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for next week.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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