Firefighter Red Adair dies, aged 89

 

Paul N "Red" Adair, the world-renowned oil well firefighter who revolutionised the science of capping exploding and burning wells, has died, his daughter said. He was 89.

Adair, who boasted that none of his employees ever suffered a serious injury fighting the dangerous fires, died last night of natural causes at a Houston hospital, said his daughter, Robyn Adair.

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.

Adair 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 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.

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