Houma, LA Oil Barge Explosion, Feb 1981
BARGE EXPLOSION, FIRE KILL 4 MEN.
Houma, La. (UPI) -- A powerful explosion and fire ripped through an oilfield barge loaded with fuel storage tanks in remote south Louisiana marshland Friday, killing four workers.
Two other people were injured, Terrebonne Parish sheriff's deputies said.
Rescue workers searching in dense fog found the bodies of three men about 75 feet from the barge, several hours after the 11 a.m. accident. The search for the fourth victim continued after dark.
About 30 to 40 sheriff's deputies, rescue squad members and volunteers from several private companies joined divers in the search for the victims, who were all thrown from the barge by the blast.
Several helicopters flew overhead, searching the murky water for survivors.
The names of the victims were withheld. Spokesman Daniel Deroche said authorities were attempting to notify their relatives.
Deroche said the fourth man was missing and presumed dead.
The fire burned for about an hour before firefighters
brought it under control. The barge, about 60 feet long, was torn to shreds and blackened by the blast.
The barge, used to "work over" or restore old or abandoned wells, was located in a remote canal off the Intracoastal Waterway about 10 miles west of Houma in the Orange Grove oil and gas field.
The only way to reach the scene was by helicopter or boats.
All four of those killed worked for the Antil Pipeline Co. of Houma.
Union Texas Petroleum of Lafayette, La., which owned the barge, investigated the explosion to determine the cause and damages to the platform.
Deroche said dense fog hampered the search. He had no details on the two injured men, but described the injuries as extremely minor.
The barge was heavily damaged by the blast but remained afloat.
Galveston Daily News Texas 1981-02-07