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Thread: Red Adair, World-Renowned Oil Well Firefighter, Dies

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Red Adair, World-Renowned Oil Well Firefighter, Dies

    Red Adair, World-Renowned Oil Well Firefighter, Dies

    The Associated Press

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Paul N. ``Red'' Adair, a world-renowned oil well firefighter who revolutionized the science of capping exploding and burning wells, has died, his daughter said. He was 89.

    Adair, who boasted none of his employees ever suffered a serious injury fighting the dangerous fires, died Saturday evening of natural causes at a Houston hospital, his daughter, Robyn Adair, told The Associated Press.

    Adair founded Red Adair Co. Inc. in 1959 and is credited with battling more than 2,000 land and offshore oil well fires, including the hundreds of wells left burning after the Iraqis fled Kuwait at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

    The 5-foot-7 Houston native proudly spent his 76th birthday clad in his traditional red overalls, swinging valves in place as his crews capped 117 Kuwaiti wells left burning by retreating Iraqi troops.

    "Retire? I don't know what that word means,'' he told reporters at the time. "As long as a man is able to work and he's productive out there and he feels good _ keep at it. I've got too many of my friends that retired and went home and got on a rocking chair, and about a year and a half later, I'm always going to the cemetery.''

    Adair, who finally did retire in 1994 and sold his company, was instrumental in expediting the shipment of crucial supplies and equipment into Kuwait by testifying before the Gulf Pollution Task Force and meeting with then-President George H.W. Bush about the logistics of the firefighting operation.

    Thanks in part to Adair's expertise, a firefighting operation expected to last three to five years was completed in nine months, saving millions of barrels of oil and stopping an intercontinental air pollution disaster.

    Adair barely changed his hectic pace as he continued to pursue his specialty. His concession to later years was an occasional mid-afternoon nap as a crew boss watched over operations. His hearing had deteriorated somewhat because of years of standing amid thundering well fires.

    "It scares you: all the noise, the rattling, the shaking,'' Adair once said in describing a blowout. "But the look on everybody's face when you're finished and packing, it's the best smile in the world; and there's nobody hurt, and the well's under control.''

    Adair spent a lifetime using explosives, drilling mud and concrete to control and cap wild well fires.

    His death-defying feats also included battling the July 1988 explosion of the Piper Alpha platform that killed 167 men in the North Sea.

    His daring and his reputation for having never met a blowout he couldn't cap earned him the nickname "Hellfighter,'' taken by Hollywood in 1968 when John Wayne portrayed him in "The Hellfighters,'' a movie based on Adair's life.

    "That's one of the best honors in the world: To have The Duke play you in a movie,'' Adair said.

    Adair's career began in 1938 at an Oklahoma oilfield where he was working as a roughneck for 30 cents an hour.

    "I don't know, maybe a valve blew that we was working on,'' he recalled in his Texas drawl. "Everybody else run but me, and I stayed up there and put the valve back on and almost got fired.''

    Instead, he attracted the attention of Myron Kinley, then the dean of oil well firefighting. When Kinley retired in 1959, Adair started his own company.

    Three years later, Adair capped one of the most spectacular oil well fires in history: the "Devil's Cigarette Lighter'' in the Sahara desert in 1961. The blowout shot flames so high that former astronaut John Glenn noted that he was able to see the blaze from his space capsule.

    In 1972, Adair set up the Red Adair Service & Marine Co. to provide his firefighting equipment to the industry, making the equipment available worldwide and offering preventative systems and safety training on site for workers.

    Adair was the first to cap an underwater well and the first to cap a floating vessel. He led the industry in developing modern equipment and firefighting techniques, including the semi-submersible firefighting vessel.

    Adair, who never showed fear in life, joked in 1991 that the hereafter would be no different.

    "I've done made a deal with the devil,'' Adair said. "He said he's going to give me an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there, so I won't put all the fires out.''

    Adair is survived by his wife, Kemmie, a son Jimmy, a daughter, three grandchildren and one great grandchild.

    Funeral arrangements were pending, Robyn Adair said.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Obituary: Real 'Hellfighter,' 89

    HOUSTON - Oil field firefighter Paul (Red) Adair, who was instrumental in capping Kuwaiti oil wells set ablaze by Iraq and was immortalized by John Wayne in a movie based on his life, has died at 89.
    Adair, who boasted that none of his employees ever suffered a serious injury fighting hundreds of dangerous well fires around the world, died Saturday of natural causes at aHouston hospital, his daughter Robyn Adair said yesterday.

    Adair revolutionized the science of snuffing and controlling wells that were spewing high-pressure jets of oil and gas by using explosives, water cannons, bulldozers, mud and concrete.

    His daring and his reputation for having never met a blowout he couldn't cap earned him the nickname "Hellfighter." That inspired the title of the 1968 John Wayne movie based on his life, "Hellfighters."

  3. #3
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    South West

    In Memory of Red

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