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Oil containment operations resume after fire

HOUSTON (AP) -- A drill ship resumed siphoning off oil gushing from a blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday after a bolt of lightning struck the ship and ignited a fire that halted containment efforts, the company said.

BP PLC spokesman Bill Salvin told The Associated Press that the drill ship called the Discoverer Enterprise resumed processing oil Tuesday afternoon about five hours after the fire caused an emergency shutdown. Engineers on the ship have been siphoning about 630,000 gallons of oil a day through a cap on top of the well.

He said there was no damage reported to the containment cap, and the Coast Guard approved BP restarting the system.

"If we believed it was damaged, we would not have restarted the operation," Salvin said. He added that the Coast Guard approved BP restarting the system.

Salvin said he is unsure how long the fire lasted, but it was apparently small and confined to the top of the vessel's derrick.

A crewmember aboard a nearby vessel that specializes in firefighting told the AP that his ship was called in to put out the fire, but by the time they arrived it was already out.

"This is not an uncommon occurrence of this type and in this type of situation," Salvin said. The spokesman said the Discoverer Enterprise has a number of safeguards in place to deal with the possibility of a fire and "they all worked as designed."