Fire caused major damage to a wind turbine Wednesday morning at the Hancock County Wind Farm southwest of Garner.
The large compartment holding the gear box and electric components more than 200 feet above the ground burned and two of the three 77-foot blades broke off, falling to the ground.
No one was injured and damage was limited to the turbine, according to a spokesman for Florida Power and Light Energy, of Juno Beach, Fla., owners of the wind farm.
The fire was reported shortly after 8 a.m., according to Hancock County Sheriff Scott Dodd.
The turbine’s third blade remained connected and was hanging straight down.
The sheriff’s office and Garner Fire Department were at the scene.
The fire started near the rear of the equipment housing compartment and worked its way toward the blades, according to Garner Fire Chief Terry Jass.
“We pretty much were on standby and when things fell to the ground we put them out,” he said. “The blades were burning when they fell.”
Ken Engstler of Engstler Construction of Garner was working on a farm near the turbine when one of his crew members saw smoke coming from the turbine.
“Smoke was rolling out of it,” said Engstler. “So we got in the truck and started heading up that way.”
He said the fire burned for half an hour to 45-minutes before the blades fell off.
“When the blades fell, there was all kinds of debris flying all over the place,” he said.
Steve Stengel, a spokesman for Florida Power and Light, said the cause of the fire is not known.
“The damage was isolated to one turbine and the balance of the wind farm remained operational,” he said.
“The turbines are all connected on different circuits,” he said. “So it is possible that four or five other turbines were taken out of service because of the fire.”
Stengel said no Florida Power and Light customers would have had service interrupted by the fire.
Stengel said there are 148 turbines in the 80-square-mile Hancock County Wind Farm.
The wind farm went into operation in 2002.
By Bob Link
4 October 2007
ARIAN SCHUESSLER/The Globe Gazette A turbine on a FPL wind generator caught fire on Wednesday morning near Garner.
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