Smoke On The Water, Fire In The Sky

The crew and I set out across the Gulf one afternoon looking forward to an early arrival and a night to just goof off and relax.  I was driving, feet on the dash, music blaring on the radio, both doors open for fresh air, just doin my "Cappy thing".  I had one eye on the GPS, one on the radar, one on the gauges, one on the navigation computer and one lookin' out the window.  The crew was all lounged about the wheelhouse, some inside with me, some sitting on the steps.  The 4 of us were anticipating what shaped up to be a truly wonderful sunset.  I noticed a smoke trail off in the distance, so I grabbed my camera and zoomed in.  It was an oil platform that we service and it was on fire!
I zoomed in my with my camera to see which platform it was for sure, dropped the camera and reached for the VHS radio to report it, when I heard someone on the radio already calling it in.
About that time our Company's phone rang and we were instructed to tie up at a neighboring platform wait for the fire to be put out and then go the platform to pick up crude oil and oily waste water that had not burned.
They got the fire out shortly after dark.  Once things cooled down, literally, the next morning we headed for the platform.
The damage wasn't that bad, mostly burnt paint and slightly warped metal. 
Some one was using a torch and the fumes caught fire.  Thankfully it spread slowly enough that there was no major explosion and no one was hurt.  They were able to extinguish the flames fairly quickly using a foam system so no crude oil got into the water.
Under the watchful eyes of the Coast Guard and Emergency Response teams we loaded the crude oil and oily waste into our barge and brought it in to be recycled.  The platforms in the Gulf number in the tens of thousands and even a small facility like this one has 12 men on board at all times.  Their safety record is very good and you'd be safer on an oil platform than driving or riding on an inerstate highway.  Unfortunately, all too often, even minor accidents like this one and the one that occured this month call national attention and even tho' lives are at stake, lives are at stake in many dangerous jobs around the world. Countrys run on oil. countrys run on nuclear power. Mistakes happen, sometimes on a grandiose scale, like the BP oil spill. But until we have something "safer" and consistantly reliable to replace the energy sources we have, we need to appreciate the talent and hard work that goes into an industry that keeps the country going. There are risks everywhere that could potentially cause major problems that don't have the national media spotlight shining on them. I guess when feces does occur, and it often does, it's fodder for the media. No matter on how large or small a scale of said feces, you can be sure they've got their noses deep in it and love smearing it around. 
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