Natural gas rig blows out, is on fire off Louisiana coast
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U.S. Coast Guard and firefighting vessels were standing by as officials prepared to stem a natural gas leak and fire that erupted at a well off the Louisiana coast overnight and continued to burn Wednesday following a blowout, authorities said.
No one was injured and all 44 workers aboard the rig were evacuated before the fire started at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, officials said.
The rig was still on fire Wednesday and the Coast Guard was restricting vessel traffic within 500 yards of the rig, while also recommending that others stay five miles away, said Lt. j.g. Tanner Stiehl. They were also enforcing Federal Aviation Administration temporary restrictions on air travel up to 2,000 feet above the area, he said.
Federal safety authorities said in a statement Wednesday morning that “as the rig fire continues, the beams supporting the derrick and rig floor have folded and have collapsed over the rig structure.”
Local officials said they did not fear the natural gas leak would become as damaging as the 2010 BP oil spill, which devastated the area, known as the Lower Parishes.