Blaze of Glory: Life-Threatening Wind Turbine Fires Way More Common Than People Think
The wind industry has been forced to concede that at least 4 bushfires were started by wind turbines in Australia, so far:
- Ten Mile Lagoon in Western Australia in the mid-1990s;
- Lake Bonney, Millicent (SA) in January 2006 (see the photo above);
- Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm, Port Lincoln (SA) in February 2009 (see this post); and
- Starfish Hill (SA) in November 2010 (see this link for more detail).
In Australia, plenty of other turbines have self-immolated, like this one at Windy Hill, near Ravenshoe west of Cairns in Far North Queensland:
However, fortunately for the communities in which these things get speared, not all of them lead to life and property-threatening bushfires.
Such as this recent event at Gunning, near Goulburn in New South Wales.
Fiery spectacle as wind turbine ignites near Goulburn
5 January 2023
A spectacular fire at the top of a wind turbine near Goulburn that could be seen for kilometres around has burnt itself out, but not before generating multiple calls to the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Six crews responded just after 6 am this morning (5 January) to the turbine fire off the Hume Highway at the wind farm on Lerida Road at Breadalbane, southwest of Goulburn.
But the blaze on the 90-metre-high turbine mast was well out of reach and crews could only keep a watching brief to ensure there were no spot fires in the surrounding grassland.
NSW RFS spokesperson Greg Allan said there had not been any threat to neighbouring properties and the fire self-extinguished just after 10 am and the scene was handed back to the wind farm contractor, which had shut down the turbine.
“I believe it’s standard practice for the industry to let them burn out,” he said. “It’s the only thing they can do.”
Mr Allan said it was not the standard type of fire the RFS attended.
“It certainly is unique for our crew, which usually deal with bush and, particularly this year, grass fires,” he said.
The cause of the fire was not known and Mr Allan could not say if a weather event such as a lightning strike from recent storms had sparked the blaze.
When and wherever these things explode into balls of flame and toxic smoke they send a shower of molten metal and over 1,000 litres of flaming gear oil, hydraulic fluid (see our post here) and burning plastic composites earthwards.
That the pyrotechnics referred to above did not result in a runaway bushfire was more luck than good management. STT’s NSW operatives – who were on the scene and took the video below – reported that the conditions were cool with light rain, rather than 42°C with a howling northerly; which is part and parcel of Australia’s summer weather, and the type that has rural folk on high alert and on a constant lookout for smoke and the terror that follows.
So, if you’re one of the unfortunates with these things speared into your backyard, STT suggests you check your insurance policy is up-to-date (and your property is fully covered for damage caused by fire); your fire-fighting equipment is primed up and ready to go; and, if that fails, you’ve got a prearranged escape route to safety.
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