Firefighters battle fire on Gulf of Mexico gas platform

AFP , Wednesday 24 Jul 2013

A natural gas leak sets flames to Hercules 265 Rig off the coast of Louisiana; the fire broke out late Tuesday

This photo released by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement shows natural gas spewing from the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, Tuesday, July 23, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Firefighters on Wednesday battled a fire on a gas platform off the coast of Louisiana, not far from the scene of the massive 2010 Deep Horizon oil spill disaster.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the fire broke out late Tuesday aboard the Hercules 265 Rig located some 55 miles (88 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, in the Gulf of Mexico.

The fire ignited after a leak which prompted the evacuation of the rig's 44 workers, authorities said.

"The natural gas leaking from the well ignited at 10:50 pm CDT July 23, 2013. No one was on board at the time of the ignition and no one was injured," the BSEE said in a statement to AFP.

"The source of the ignition is not known at this time," the BSEE statement said.

Authorities said that a firefighting vessel was trying to extinguish the blaze using water and foam.

The US Coast Guard, which is providing safety management oversight, dispatched an 87-foot (27-meter long) cutter and crew, a helicopter, and a twin engine aircraft to the scene.

The BSEE said that the site operator, Walter Oil and Gas Corporation, will be conducting a site assessment prior to beginning any work on the well.

British energy giant BP reached a $7.8 billion settlement last year with thousands of people and businesses hit by the Deep Horizon explosion and oil spill -- the worst environmental disaster in US history.

That disaster three years ago killed 11 workers, blackened beaches in five US states and crippled the region's tourism and fishing industries.

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