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Oil Rig Fires

Oil Rig Fires

Fires and explosions are among the most imminent threats to oil rig workers. Not only is the offshore drilling platform far from help, but the fire is surrounded by a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fuel. If the fire comes into contact with gas or liquid fuel, an ignition could cause an explosion that could send the entire oil rig to the bottom of the ocean.

There are many causes of explosions on oil drilling platforms. Some of the most common include:

  • Blowouts
  • Equipment Problems
  • Employee / Employer Negligence

Due, however, to the large amounts of oil drilled for and stored on these platforms, fire is one of the most deadly threats to the safety of those on board. Offshore drilling platforms are one of the more dangerous places to work. They are used to drill for natural gas or oil which is found beneath the surface of the ocean floor.

Not only do these rigs drill for oil and gas, but they also temporarily store these flammable fuels until it can be brought to the shore. There are many types of heavy machinery on these oil rigs as well as facilities to house the personnel. Offshore platforms may float, may be built on man-made islands, or may be built on the ocean floor.

Learning from Deepwater Horizon & Other Explosions

With the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, questions are arising regarding oil rig explosions and what can be done to prevent them. The accident took place off the coast of Louisiana when workers on board used a torch to cut through a line that contained oil. Two of the workers were killed and four suffered serious injuries.

We all remember the devastating accident that happened on April 20th, 2010. Eleven workers died when the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit burned and sank. The casualties and subsequent oil spill should serve as a warning to owners and employers to maintain strict safety measures. In these incidents, time is crucial. The workers of the BP-operated oil rig stated that they had only five minutes to escape when the alarm was sounded.

What are the common causes of oil rig fires?

Understanding possible causes of fires aboard oil rigs could help them to be prevented:

  • Welding, grinding, and cutting – Employees need to be trained regarding how to use these tools. The open flames produced can easily cause a fire should it come into contact with fuel.
  • Incorrectly handling of oil / gas – If the oil or gas itself is not handled correctly or according to procedure, this could lead to a major accident. Even something like smoking a cigarette or leaving a candle unattended could result in a serious fire. Employers and employees also need to be aware of the threat of arson.
  • Electrical fires – If electric wires or cords are damaged, they could begin to spark. Employees also need to be careful to only use electric devices approved for use on the offshore platform and that they refrain for using electric tools for uses other than what they were designed for.
  • Natural occurrences – This can include incidents such as lightening causing a short circuit that results in a fire. Storm damage could also lead to electrical damage or other issues that lead to fires or explosions.
  • Cooking / kitchen fires – There have been incidents where fires start in the kitchen area and spread to other parts of the platform. It is important that staff is vigilant in not leaving appliances unattended.

Workers and employers need to be aware that the danger of a fire or explosion on an oil rig platform is extremely high. If you or a loved one were the victim of a fire while on board an offshore drilling platform, you should consider getting in touch with a member of our legal team. At Arnold & Itkin, we have been able to recover billions of dollars for victims of personal injury. By getting in touch with our offshore accident lawyers, you can have peace of mind knowing your oil rig fire claim will be examined from every angle.


To learn more, please fill out our free case evaluation form. You can also call our office at any time to schedule an appointment: (888) 346-5024.


Oil Rig Explosions

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