- A Russian oil company called in the army to fight an oil well fire it was unable to control.
- The Russian army sent a Rapira anti-tank gun and crew to shell the wellhead.
- An anti-aircraft gun isn’t the biggest weapon used to stop a fire. Think much bigger. Much, much bigger.
Russian troops called in to battle a Siberian oil well fire got the job done with an unusual firefighting tool: an anti-tank gun. The army troops were requested after the owners of an oil wellhead that had caught fire were unable to put out the blaze. The gun, designed to kill NATO tanks, successfully extinguished the fire.
The well, operated by the Irkutsk Oil Company in Russia’s Irkutsk region, caught fire on May 30. The company was unable to put the fire out on its own. Oil well fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish due to the constant stream of gushing flammable petroleum. In order to extinguish the fire firefighters must separate the fire from the petroleum, no easy feat considering the petroleum is shooting upward under pressure.
According to Reuters, the Russian Defence Ministry flew in a Rapira MT-12 anti-tank gun and crew to the oil well site. That in itself was no easy feat—the Siberian Times says the oil well was 1,000 kilometers from the city of Irkutsk and 100 kilometers from the nearest village.
The Rapira MT-12 is a towed anti-tank gun designed to destroy enemy tanks. The MT-12 uses the same 100-millimeter gun as the older, obsolete T-55 main battle tank but with a longer barrel to increase projectile velocity. The gun crew fired repeatedly at the wellhead from a distance of 180 meters. According to the Defence Ministry, the gun destroyed the wellhead, breaking it from the well and allowing crews to seal the well.