Platform Baker Fire Response in Alaska Overflight Footage


10/14/2014: Overflight footage of the natural gas drill platform Baker in Cook Inlet near Kenai, Alaska, filmed by a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Kodiak, Oct. 3, 2014.

Multiple Coast Guard assets, along with personnel from Hilcorp, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Nikiski Fire Department, CISPRI and Offshore Marine Services responded to the fire on the platform which began Oct. 2.

Credit:U.S. Coast Guard District 17:10/3/14

According to the Alaska Dispatch in a story by Zaz Hollander published October 2, 2014:

A stubborn fire on a Cook Inlet natural gas platform near Nikiski on Thursday morning triggered the evacuation of four workers but caused no injuries, authorities say.

Firefighting vessels continued spraying water at the Hilcorp Alaska LLC platform into early afternoon, and responders through the day watched for signs of pollution, though none were evident as of late Thursday afternoon.

“We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing at this point,” Hilcorp spokeswoman Lori Nelson said in late afternoon from a command center established in Nikiski. “No spill, no sheen, minimal debris.”

The fire started at about 7:30 a.m. in the area of the platform crew’s living quarters,  according to an update from the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council that started off with the words “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

A Nikiski-based Hilcorp helicopter evacuated the four employees just before 8 a.m., Nelson said. The U.S. Coast Guard said it received the first reports of the fire around 8:30 a.m.

The fire destroyed the quarters but doesn’t appear to have involved any gas-processing equipment, she said. The flow of gas was shut down remotely after the alarm sounded.

By midday, flames and black smoke that shocked witnesses earlier in the morning gave way to smoldering embers and gray smoke. The fire was initially reported out by 1:20 p.m., Coast Guard spokesman Shawn Eggert said, though firefighting and response vessels stayed at the platform through the day.

Responders reported full containment of the fire in an update issued just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday from the command center. Officials said they planned to monitor the fire through the night.

A full investigation to determine the cause of the fire is underway, according to an update from Hilcorp, the Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Investigators will board the platform once it’s secured.

The platform, in the North Middle Ground Shoal Field 7 to 8 miles from shore near Nikiski, is one of 16 in Cook Inlet. Hilcorp owns 12 of them.

Louise Nutter, who lives in Nikiski between three waterfront heliports, spotted flames and smoke rising from the Baker platform just after she took her first-grader to school.

“You certainly don’t ever want to see the view of smoke coming off an oil platform like that,” Nutter said.

“I know what it looks like when there’s a flare, when they burn off the pressure, but I have never seen black smoke billowing off the platform before.”

She spent the next few minutes texting furiously with a friend who works as a crane operator on the Baker platform and was relieved to hear that he was on his two weeks off and in Louisiana.

“He told me everybody got off safe, and that’s what I wanted to hear,” Nutter said.

The Coast Guard, DEC and Hilcorp set up a unified command at Nikiski. 

Officials established a 5-mile-radius no-fly zone at 5,000 feet and a 2-mile maritime safety zone around the platform.