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Kinley's Right Hand

This is a nice photograph of the great Myron Kinley, left and very young, Red Adair. This is in Oklahoma somewhere, circ. 1948-49, not more than a year or two after Kinley hired Adair. It's a staged photo of sorts, the lighting perfect and everybody is clean and smiling. Kinley did not smile a lot on a big fire that needed shooting and he would have been barking orders at the welder instead of acting the patient mentor to Red.

This is the standard set up to shoot out a fire in that era; a single 3 1/2 inch OD boom with 1 55 gallon shot drum being tacked and braced on the end of the boom. The boom will get numerous other braces for stability so as to be backed into the exact spot in the column of fire, in what is called the mixing chamber. Kinley and Adair will load the drum with the appropriate amount of glycerin for the fire and the entire drum will then be wrapped in asbestos cloth and carefully backed in with dozer while it is sprayed with water. When its just right the two will then slide behind something, like a dozer blade, to protect themselves from flying debris, and set the charge.

Kinley perfected all this during his 22 years in the well control profession before he even hired Adair. He was very good at it and consequently, Adair got good at it.

In 1958 Kinley was having a difficult time shooting a well out in Iran and failed three times to extinguish the fire. Adair flew over from the United States to help, cleaned up around the wellhead better to remove iron that was causing the well to reignite, shaped a drum of glycerin and got it the first time. Things began to unravel between the two of them after that and about seven months later Adair left Myron Kinley to form the Red Adair Company. Eventually both Boots Hansen and Coots Matthews, employees of Kinley's, would join Red's new company.

Myron would continue to help long time friends with well control issues for three or four more years, into his mid to late 60's, including to extinguish and cap a large fire in Japan that made him a national hero there. I hope to write about that very soon.

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