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USA – 2 Killed, 3 Hurt in Explosion, Fire at Oklahoma Oil Rig

OK Rig BlastCOALGATE, Okla. — An explosion and fire at a southeastern Oklahoma oil rig early Friday killed two workers and injured three others, two of them critically.

The explosion occurred around 1 a.m. on the deck of a rig about 2 miles west of Coalgate, a community about 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, said Sam Schafnitt, chief of operations for the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Schafnitt said the fire had been extinguished and that investigators from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration were helping investigate the cause of the explosion.

“We’re just trying to put the puzzle pieces on the table and (are) looking at them,” he said.

Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, said nobody had to be evacuated from the area near the rig and there weren’t any reports of significant environmental damage.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office identified the dead as Gary Keenen, 26, of Ada, and Kelsey Bellah, 27, of Tulsa. Schafnitt said the critically injured workers were airlifted to a hospital burn unit in Oklahoma City. The third injured worker sustained burns on his hands, he said. Schafnitt did not identify the injured workers.

All of the workers were employed by Dan D. Drilling of Lamont, Oklahoma, according Juan J. Rodriguez of the U.S. Department of Labor in Dallas. Neither that company nor the Amarillo, Texas-based rig owner, Pablo Energy, responded to phone messages seeking comment.

Coal County Sheriff Bryan Jump also didn’t immediately respond to calls.

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