Quintals of coal were gutted in the fire, the smoke from which still engulfs the area. Central Coalfield Limited (CCL) officials, camped at the coal mine, are trying to douse the flames.

"Efforts are on to control the fire. We hope to bring it under control by Saturday. The fire erupted due to illegal mining in the area. It was an underground fire which erupted and became destructive due to illegal mining that allows air to penetrate inside the mine," Sumit Ghosh, a top CCL official, told reporters.

Asked about the threat to the highway, he said, "Above the ground, the fire is 700 meter away from the national highway and the area of underground mine is around 150 meter away from the road."

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