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A smoldering fire 1000 ft. inside a tunnel at a hydro-electric plant outside of Georgetown, Colorado, developed late Tuesday, killing five contract workers of the company as they tried in vain to escape.

The five who perished in the chemical fire were from a group of nine contract maintenance workers at Xcel Energy. The workers had crawled 1,000 feet inside an empty 4,000 foot long underground water tunnel to perform certain maintenance upgrades when something went awry.

The machinery used to apply epoxy to the surface metal of the tunnel to prevent corrosion malfunctioned and ignited a chemical fire, trapping the workers in the tunnel and subjecting them to toxic fumes of burning epoxy resin. Officials at Excel Energy and Cabin Creek authorities had initially hoped to rescue the trapped workers, but efforts proved futile. Miraculously, four co-workers were able to escape the fire alive.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Wrongful Death.

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