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Oklahoma Oil Rig Explosion: Preliminary Report Released

On December 18, 2014, an oil rig owned by Pablo Energy exploded in Coal County, Oklahoma about 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The explosion and ensuing fire killed three workers and injured two others. An ongoing investigation into the root cause of the explosion is underway, although a preliminary report has been released.

Cause of Fire

Investigators believe that the cause of the fire was a space heater that was being used by workers in an area of the rig known as the dog house. The dog house is an area of an oil rig where tools are stored and workers eat lunch. Co-workers who were at the rig on the day of the explosion have stated that the space heater was turned on because one co-worker had forgotten his overalls and was cold. That worker was injured in the fire and is still recovering to burns on nearly half of his body.

The space heater is believed to have ignited the flammable oil-based mud that was being used on the rig. The preliminary report states that a first responder was told by a wounded victim that the space heater being on the floor caused the initial burst of flames.

Violation of Safety Policy

All of the workers who were injured or killed in the accident were contractors for Dan D Drilling, an Oklahoma-based drilling services company that provides work in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Spokespeople from Dan D Drilling noted that space heaters were in violation of the company's safety policy.

The Oklahoma state fire marshal's office is also conducting an investigation into the incident, but noted that its report will not be complete until OSHA has finalized its investigation.

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