East County Magazine (San Diego)
By Miriam Raftery
October 31, 2013 (Netherlands) – Two young mechanics, ages 19 and 21, died when a fire broke out in a wind turbine where they were performing routine maintenance. The tragedy occurred at Deltawind’s Piet de Wit wind farm in the Netherlands, but highlights the hazards associated with fires caused by wind turbines.
According to the Netherlands Times, “because of the height, the fire department initially had trouble extinguishing the fire in the engine room.” The fire started in the afternoon, but it took until evening for a special team of firefighters to arrive and ascend with a large crane.
One victim was found on the ground beside the wind turbine; the other body was recovered by the specialized team. Two other mechanics escaped safely. A witness reported seeing two men jump through flames into a staircase.
Cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but Deltawind has suggested a short circuit could be the cause. The turbine was a 1.75 megawatt Vestas V-66. Troublingly, these turbines are being sold by secondhand dealers online to buyers who may have no knowledge about the potential fire hazard.
The wind industry has long claimed that wind turbine fires are rare. But after creating a Google alert for the term “wind turbine fire,” ECM has received clips from media outlets around the world documenting that in fact, wind turbine fires are far more common than the industry would have prospective buyers believe.
Vestas has been plagued by wind turbine fires in the past. The company blamed a 2011 wind turbine fire on a brake problem. In 2012, a Vestas V-112 wind turbine in Germany caught fire; Vestas blamed the blaze on a loose connection that caused an arc flash. Also in 2012; a similar arc fire occurred in a Vestas V-90 turbine in Spain during maintenance; in addition a Vestas turbine collapsed in Ireland. Then in April 2013, a Vestas V-80 wind turbine in Ontario, Canada, burst into flames.