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Home > Real Men > Other > Red Adair

Paul "Red" Adair


Born June 18, 1915 in Houston, Texas.
Died August 8, 2004
in Houston, Texas, natural causes.


Paul 'Red' AdairPaul Neal "Red" Adair was born to Charles and Mary Adair. Charles was a blacksmith in the Heights of Houston. Red had four brothers and three sisters. Red Adair quit high school and held various jobs to support the family. In 1936 he went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Red's first oil-related job came in 1938 with the Otis Pressure Control Company. Red worked numerous odd jobs in the oil industry before joining the Army during World War II. Red served with the 139th Bomb Disposal Squadron and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.

After the war, Red began to work for Myron Kinley, the original pioneer of oil well fire and blowout control. Red worked for the M. M. Kinley Company for fourteen years, until he resigned in 1956. Red then formed the Red Adair Company.

Hellfighter Red AdairThe Red Adair Company became world-famous for pioneering techniques to control oil well fires and blowouts. The Red Adair Company was the first to extinguish an underwater wild well and the first to cap a U.S. well while it was on fire. Red's legend started when he extinguished the "Devil's Cigarette Lighter" in 1962 in the Sahara Desert. The blaze had been burning for six months, fueled by over 550 million cubic feet of gas a day.

Red also fought the 1970 offshore blaze at Bay Marchland, Louisiana, and the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988. Perhaps his most famous battle occurred when Red's team extinguished 117 oil well fires in Kuwait, left by the retreating Iraqi Army.

Red Adair was technical advisor for the John Wayne movie Hellfighters. Red sold the Red Adair Company in 1993.


"Retire? I don't know what that word means. As long as a man is able to work and he's productive out there and he feels good — keep at it. I've got too many of my friends that retired and went home and got on a rocking chair, and about a year and a half later, I'm always going to the cemetery." (to reporters while working at the Kuwaiti oil well fires at the end of the Gulf War in 1991)

"I've done made a deal with the devil. He said he's going to give me an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there, so I won't put all the fires out." (in 1991, joking about afterlife alternatives)


Red Adair on the web... - Official site from Adair Enterprises
Red Adair biography on Wikipedia
BBC Obituary of Paul "Red" Adair


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