OSHA Determines Open-Flame Heater Likely Cause of Coalgate Fire

The oil rig fire resulted in three deaths and two serious injuries.

An OSHA investigation has concluded that an open-flame heater on the floor of a rig likely sparked the fire that killed three natural gas drillers and seriously injured two others in December 2014 in Coalgate, Okla. Three workers were killed in the explosion, while two others suffered serious injuries.

"Three young men died because Dan D Drilling again allowed the use of an open-flame heater. The heater probably started the fire. The company knew this was hazardous but chose to ignore the hazard," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City.

As a result, Dan D Drilling was cited for two willful, on repeat, and seven serious violations. The willful violations were for using an open-flame heater on the rig floor that exposed six workers to fire hazards and for failing to provide and ensure that employees were wearing flame-resistant clothing.

The seven serious violations include failing to provide a quick drenching shower for employees who work with corrosive materials; to provide electrical equipment approved for hazardous locations; and to train workers on the chemical and physical hazards of new chemicals at the work site.

The repeat violation was cited for failing to provide emergency egress from the rig derrick platform.

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