Red Adair

Firefighter

Born: 18 June 1915
Died: 7 August 2004
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Best known as: Oil well firefighting legend

Name at birth: Paul Neal Adair

Red Adair was the most famous firefighter in the world, known for his expertise in putting out oil well fires and controlling well blowouts. After serving in a bomb disposal unit in World War II, Adair returned to Texas and started fighting oil well fires. In 1962 he gained international fame when he led a team that put out a fire in the Sahara that had been burning for six months. (The gas fire had been dubbed "The Devil's Cigarette Lighter.") Adair founded his own equipment and consultation business in 1972 and pioneered firefighting techniques and tools. After the Gulf War in 1991 he participated in controlling the oil well fires in Kuwait (set by Saddam Hussein's retreating army).

Extra credit: John Wayne's character in the 1969 movie Hellfighters is based on Red, and Adair served as the film's technical advisor.

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