Four injured in Cook Inlet platform fire

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Four people were injured Saturday when a fire broke out on an oil platform in Cook Inlet, Alaska State Troopers said.

The fire forced the evacuation of workers from the King Salmon Platform in Trading Bay, located on the west side of the inlet about 65 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Unocal, which owns the platform, said the injured were contract workers. Their identities were not released pending notification of kin.

Troopers and officials at Unocal notified the Coast Guard about the fire at about 3:40 p.m.

Unocal spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz said company personnel put out the blaze. Firefighters from Nikiski, about 12 miles northwest of the platform, also responded. The fire was declared out about an hour after it began, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

There were 52 workers on the platform. Of those, 33 nonessential workers were evacuated, Sinz said.

The fire occurred while work was being done on one of the platform's 24 wells.

''Apparently while they were performing this work some gas ignited,'' Sinz said.

The injured workers were walking up a ladder when the fire moved down toward them, burning them on their upper bodies.

The most seriously injured worker received burns to his hands and perhaps his face, Sinz said. He was taken off the platform by helicopter and flown to Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna. The other three injured workers were taken off by boat and transported to the hospital by ambulance.

A private vessel in the area was used to get noninjured workers off the platform. They were lowered to the boat by basket and taken to shore, Wilkinson said.

Sinz said the platform will remain shut down until the extent of the damage can be assessed.

Coast Guard spokesman Darrell Wilson said when the fire was first reported emergency personnel went into high gear. He said the Coast Guard sent two helicopters from Kodiak and a cutter from Homer. Unocal also sent two of its helicopters, Wilson.

''Everyone responded right away,'' he said.

The Air National Guard also responded with an HH60 Pavehawk helicopter and a refueling tanker. Both returned to base when they were not needed, said spokesman Mike Haller.

The platform was installed in 1967. It produces about 9,000 barrels of crude oil and 3.6 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The gas is used as fuel on the platform.

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