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Fire on Oil Rig Kills 2, Injures 11, More Believed Missing

VENICE, La.— This morning at approximately 9am Central Time, a fire broke out on board a Black Elk Energy oil rig. The rig, a production platform, was southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana. While no drilling was going on at the time of the fire, it is reported that maintenance workers were cutting a pipe when some oil got loose, that could have caused the fire. There were between 26 and 28 people on board during the time of the explosion and four were evacuated before the incident.

News sources such as The Houston Chronicle, USA Today, CBS, and Fuelfix.com have reported that two workers are dead, eleven have been injured and at least two are believed missing. The eleven injured workers were airlifted to West Jefferson Medical Center. Four were said to be in critical condition after suffering serious burns. Once these individuals are stabilized they will be admitted to the Baton Rouge Burn Center.

The two reported missing allegedly jumped from the platform after it exploded. Immediately after the incident, the Coast Guard assessed the damage and other private boats helped search for the missing crew. Coast Guard officials speculate that as many as 15 workers could be missing.

The Coast Guard had previously cleared the site, saying there was no pollution in the area. The platform was for oil production from an established well, unlike the well that was used when the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred. The platform was also a shallow-water production platform, whereas the well that blew out in 2010 was in mile-deep water.

While the explosion doesn't pose nearly as much of an ecological threat as that of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a team of environmental enforcement inspectors are flying to the scene. They will scan for evidence of oil spilling and investigate the cause of the explosion. Reports say that while the fire was extinguished two hours after erupting, an oil sheen has spread, covering more than two miles of area of water.

The Coast Guard captain has said that since the platform was not actively producing oil, it is not believed that this incident will result in a major environmental disaster. In his own words, "It's not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right now."

The executive director of Port Fourchon said, "The concern at this point is more along the lines of the lives of the personnel on the platform." Ironically, the accident occurred the day after BP settled criminal charges, agreeing to a $4 billion settlement for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the gulf.

Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston. It owns 854 wells and 155 platforms. While a small fire occurred on a Black Elk platform in February of 2011 in the Gulf of Mexico, it was quickly contained. In August, Black Elk Energy was named one of the fastest-growing privately held companies by Inc. Magazine. The company has not released any comment about the explosion yet.

When it comes to handling offshore injury cases, Arnold & Itkin has proven itself an aggressive and yet caring representative for hundreds of workers. The firm has received several positive client testimonials after representing victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. These testimonials can be found by clicking here.

When you or a loved one is injured in an offshore accident, it is absolutely imperative that after you receive medical care, you secure the competent legal services you need. Arnold & Itkin's founding attorneys, Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin have been recognized in several ways for their legal excellence. They have been honored as "Top Lawyers for the People" by H Texas Magazine and were named "Rising Stars" by Texas Monthly's magazine. The firm offers all prospective clients a free, no-obligation case consultation.

The oil and gas industry is a dangerous field. According to the United States Department of Labor a total of 120 fatal work injuries occurred in this industry in 2008. The three most common fatal events were transportation accidents, contact with objects/equipment and fires and explosions (15% of fatal events). Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana reported the most fatal work injuries within the oil and gas extraction industry. Statistics from 2003 to 2007 indicate that nonfatal injuries and illnesses have increased for workers responsible for drilling oil and gas wells.

After you have been injured in a maritime accident, or have lost a loved one in a maritime accident, it is important that you hire a maritime attorney. A maritime lawyer is someone who specializes in the realm of offshore injury and who understands important issues such as relevant laws (such as the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act and the Longshore and Habor Workers' Compensation Act), statute of limitations, and all the damages you are entitled to. After you have been injured in an accident and your life has been so adversely affected, it is important that you focus on recovering physically and leave financial recovery in the hands of a competent attorney.

Arnold & Itkin takes pride in what it does and genuinely cares for clients. If you need any legal advice, the firm would be happy to advise you today! If you need some basic questions answered immediately, check out the "Common Questions" page of this site. Otherwise, pick up your phone today and schedule a free consultation. Call the firm at (888) 393-8645. Secure the aggressive legal representation you have been looking for today!

Edits:

*Since this blog was posted, one person has been confirmed dead and the other worker remains missing. Initial reports that "two workers were dead and two workers were missing" were erroneous.

*The oil sheen has been reported to cover one-half mile by 200 yards, not two miles, as this blog post relayed.

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