Heater Blamed For Coal County Rig Fire That Killed Three

Wednesday, June 17th 2015, 3:43 pm
By: Richard Clark

An open-flame heater on the floor of a rig likely sparked the fire that killed three natural gas drillers and seriously injured two others in Coalgate last December, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The explosion on December 18, 2014 killed Mark Pittman, Gary Keenan and Kelsey Bellah. Bellah was 27, Keenan and Pittman were 26.

Related Story: 12/19/2014: Two Killed, Three Injured In Coal County Drilling Rig Fire

Bellah was from Catoosa. He and Keenan died at the scene. Pittman died 16 days later in the hospital. 

OSHA blames the company, Dan D Drilling Corporation, for the fire. It says the company allowed the use of an open-flame heater on the floor of the rig.

It says it had cited the company in June 2013 for allowing the use of an open-flame heater.

5/20/2015: Related Story: Deadly Coal County Rig Fire 911 Audio, Video Released

OSHA listed seven serious violations against the company. They include failing to provide a quick drenching shower for employees who work with corrosive materials; electrical equipment approved for hazardous locations; and training workers on the chemical and physical hazards of new chemicals at the work site.

OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $221,200 against the company, which as 15 businesses days to respond.