The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by Iraqi military forces setting fire to a reported 605 to 732 oil wells along with an unspecified number of oil filled low-lying areas, such as oil lakes and fire trenches. They did so as part of a scorched earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 due to the advances of Coalition military forces in the Persian Gulf War. The fires were started in January and February 1991, and the first well fires were extinguished in early April 1991, with the last well capped by Safety Boss Inc. on November 6, 1991. Safety Boss Inc. capped 180 wells in less than 200 days.
More than half the wells in Kuwait were controlled by stinging. Using a crane crews jammed the stinger into the wellhead and kept it firmly in place while heavy mud was pumped into the well through a kill line. This overcame the natural pressure in the well bore.