Workers trapped in a motorgrader by a mud and water slide at Triton Coal Co.'s North Rochelle mine were rescued by firefighters Sunday.

"There was a super-cell thunderstorm on top of us and we were in the center of it," said Triton Vice President Scott Deppe.

"It dumped over two inches of rain in about 45 minutes; it was a 1R 50-year storm," he said.

A 1R 50-year storm event is one inch or more of rainfall in a one-hour period that happens only once every 50 years, Deppe said.

He said they were moving workers out of the low areas because of the storm. A Caterpillar 24H motorgrader driver had just picked up a shovel operator out of the pit and was heading up the ramp when they were met with a wall of water, mud and silt rushing down the ramp straight for them. The grader was trapped in 25-30 feet of mud, said Campbell County Fire Marshall Dave Mansur.

Firefighters were able to rescue the trapped men by throwing them a rope, which they tied to the grader, while firefighters tied the other end to a piece of equipment on stable ground. Firefighters then used the rope to guide them in on an ice rescue sled to the top of the grader. The men were rescued one-at-a-time in the sled.