Authorities believe that a space heater may have triggered the blast that rocked a Coal County oil rig and killed three workers and injured two.
According to information obtained by the McAlester News-Capital in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Coal County Sheriffs Office filed incident reports after the accident, including eyewitness accounts of the explosion.
The reports stated that one of the fatally injured men, Mark Pittman,Jr., was still conscious when deputies arrived on the scene. When asked what caused the blast, he responded that there was a space heater on the floor.
A directional driller for Dan D Drilling, also indicated that the space heater could have been the cause of the fire. He stated that the space heater was turned on because one of the workers was cold because he had forgotten his coveralls.
State Fire Marshals wrote in their preliminary findings that the area of the fires origin was near the floor of the rig by the space heater.
When asked why the space heater was on at the time of the explosion, the owner of the rig said that there were still questions as to whether or not the heater was on. He did add, however, that the heater was not supposed to be there.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still conducting an ongoing investigation into the cause of the accident. However, OSHA’s website for gas and oil drills does indicate that open flames, sparks, or other heating sources are potential ignition hazards at drilling rigs.
The Edwards Law Firm is closely watching this accident and the investigation for continuing developments. Trevor Furlong, an Edwards Law Firm partner who represents oil and gas rig workers in personal cases, told the McAlester News-Capital that he had never encountered a situation where space heaters were being used on rigs.
Working on an oil or gas rig is a dangerous profession. While the oil fracking boom has been beneficial for Oklahoma’s economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the fatality rate for oil and gas workers is now nearly eight times higher than the industry average.
The Tulsa personal injury attorneys at The Edwards Law Firm understand the hazards of oil and gas work, and pride themselves on representing the victims and families of those harmed by their profession.
If you or your family member was injured in an oil rig accident, The Edwards Law Firm can help.