- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A contained fire flared up Friday morning at an offshore natural gas platform in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, but it was quickly tamped down by responders, the Coast Guard said.

Capt. Paul Mehler III said the flare-up might have come from hosed water hitting electrical wires still powered at the structure, which is called the Baker platform.

Mehler said he was among those who flew over the site later Friday, and he saw no sign of any more activity. Firefighters and other responders were planning to be flown by helicopter to board the platform Friday afternoon so they can shut off the power, look for hotspots and activate a hydraulic crane to deliver equipment and people from boats instead of helicopters, he said.

“We got pretty close,” Mehler said of the flyover. “No smoke, no reflash that we saw. But still in an abundance of caution, we’re keeping water on it.”

The fire broke out Thursday, destroying the crew’s living quarters and forcing four workers to evacuate before the blaze was contained. But no one was injured, and the environmental risk was considered minimal. The platform is owned by Hilcorp Alaska LLC.

Hilcorp spokeswoman Lori Nelson said it’s too early in the investigation to speculate about damage estimates or repair plans for the platform, which is about 45 miles southwest of Anchorage.

There were still no reports of a fuel spill or sheen in the water at the scene eight miles offshore.

“There’s still no debris that’s in the water, no pollution,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t seem that any of the process equipment was involved in the fire. It was pretty much contained to the quarters.”

The platform has only one active production well, and it was shut off remotely after the fire broke out. A subsurface pipeline that carries the gas to the town of Nikiski also was closed.

The inlet stretches 180 miles from Anchorage to the Gulf of Alaska.


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