Buckled Oil Rig Removed After Threat to Homes in Huntington Beach

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An 60-foot oil derrick in Huntington Beach buckled Monday and was leaning at a 45-degree angle above homes, prompting a six-hour evacuation before it was dismantled, fire officials said.


An oil rig leaned precariously after it bucked Monday in Huntington Beach. (credit: Chris Wolfe)

Crews were doing routine maintenance on the towering derrick when the structure started to buckle about 30 feet above the ground just after 1:30 p.m., Capt. Bob Culhane of the Huntington Beach Fire Department said.

The tilted part of the rig was hanging over power lines, Culhane said, and Southern California Edison had shut off power to 42 customers in the area surrounding the derrick, at First Street and Pacific Coast Highway (map).

Three nearby homes and 10 apartments were evacuated, and residents were allowed to return about 8 p.m.

One nearby resident who was affected took a long view of the incident.

“The city of Huntington Beach was built on a long, long history based on oil, and we’ve prospered from it, and every now and then we have to pay the price for it,” Joe Gaglio said.

Two workers who were on a platform about 8 feet below the break when it occurred were not injured, officials on scene said.

A crane was brought in to secure the leaning section of the derrick, which was removed. Samples showed no noxious gases were escaping the rig, Culhane said.

The cause of the derrick’s failure was being investigated.


Sky5 captured this image of the derrick.