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Gas Line Fire Severely Burns Five

July 6, 2000

VENICE, La. (AP) _ A pair of boats struck an underwater natural gas pipeline off the Louisiana coast, sparking a fire that shot flames 200 feet skyward and severely burned five crew members.

The blaze affecting the Southern Natural Gas line in the Gulf of Mexico could be seen 35 miles away before it was put out, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Michael Martin said. How the boats could strike the pipeline was not immediately known.

The injured apparently had second- and third-degree burns, Martin said. They were rescued by Coast Guard helicopters and taken to the University of Southern Alabama Hospital in Mobile, Ala.

The boats were supply vessels or tug boats, each carrying three people. A message left at Southern Natural’s New Orleans office was not immediately returned.

No significant pollution was reported from the accident six miles west of Venice, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, Martin said.

In a second incident, a fire forced 51 people to evacuate a natural gas rig 22 miles southwest of Venice early Thursday. The Coast Guard said the fire started on a barge and spread to the platform.

Two Coast Guard helicopters from New Orleans, patrol boats and commercial vessels helped bring all workers to safety, Martin said.

It was not immediately known which company operated the rig. The fire was snuffed within a few hours.

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