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5 workers dead during fire on site

According to the New York Times, five workers died in Colorado Tuesday from a chemical fire that broke out over 1500 feet below ground.

The workers were working in a water tunnel outside Georgetown, Colorado when a fire started and trapped them underground. They did gain radio contact shortly before they died and had indicated that everyone was unharmed and okay. But afterward contact was lost, and rescue teams from the nearby Henderson Mine discovered the bodies.

Kathleen Gaubatz, the director of emergency management for Clear Creek County said the wokers were towards the bottom of a 3,000-foot-long tunnel that carries water to the hydroelectric plant from a reservoir. They were coating the four-foot-wide tunnel with epoxy sealant when the fire broke out, she said.

Four other workers were able to escape with one being flown in a helicopter to a nearby hospital. The nature of his injuries have not been announced.

The bodies are to be recovered Tuesday night to determine the cause of death, Gaubatz said.

According to CNN, plans to recover the bodies were delayed until Wednesday because of conditions inside the empty water tunnel hundreds of feet underground where the fire broke out.

Clear Creek County Undersheriff Stu Nay said recovery times with experience working in confined spaces will go in for the bodies once the air quality in the tunnel is adequate enough.

The victim's next of kin have not been notified yet, but authorities said they will be once the bodies can be formally identified.

The contractors were employees of RPI Coating of Santa Fe Springs, California, but the plant belonged to Xcel Energy.

Tim Taylor, president and CEO of Xcel's Public Service Co. of Colorado, said Tuesday the firm was saddened by the deaths and "certainly we'll be working closely with the authorities to investigate what happened."