By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Three miners were trapped on Wednesday afternoon by smoke after a drill rig caught fire at the Young Zinc Mine in Tennessee, and two others were sent to a hospital with smoke inhalation, authorities said.
Some 54 miners were in the zinc mine when the rig caught fire about 800 feet from the surface, and 51 of them were able to walk out of the mine, New Market Fire Department Captain Sammy Solomon said.
The two miners taken to a local hospital had minor smoke inhalation, Solomon said. New Market is about 15 miles north of Knoxville in eastern Tennessee.
A team from Tennessee Mine Rescue was assisting in the rescue of the trapped miners, Solomon said. The miners have been in contact with workers at the surface.
"We're waiting for the Tennessee Mine Rescue to get them out," said Solomon, who has been captain of the volunteer fire and rescue unit for more than 20 years.
The rescuers were down in the mine at about 2 p.m. local time, about an hour after the fire call came in, and were beginning the process of getting the trapped miners from a safety pod.
"They are OK. They are trapped by the smoke, they are not trapped by any objects," firefighter Jonathan Rogers said.
(Additional reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Jerry Norton)