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Vapors Ignited on Oil Platform, Leads to Fatal Accident

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A fire on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico has caused two deaths and led to the disappearance of two other rig workers. In addition, 11 workers were treated for injuries. Some are still hospitalized in critical condition.

According to KHOU News in Houston, the oil and gas accident occurred when the workers cut into a pipeline with a cutting torch. The torch ignited vapors in the pipeline and set the fire.

The oil rig is owned by private firm Black Elk Energy in Houston. What workers should have used, according to CEO John Hoffman, was a "cold-cutting device" that would not have given off sparks.

But Hoffman also said: "Our focus at this very point is for the well being and the treatment for those injured, and those that were not injured in this to have crisis management counselors available to them."

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that the oil rig was not producing, which perhaps quells fears of a leak reminiscent of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, though there is a 200-yard oil sheen on the water from the cut in the pipeline.

Work on oil rigs can be risky. While it's too early to say who exactly is at fault and why, the risk here was definitely heightened by use of the cutting tool, which could be a result of defective equipment or not having the proper equipment available to the workers, although that information remains unknown.

Source: Oil platform fire off Louisiana coast kills 2, company says

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