Emergency calls flooded the Jackson County Law Enforcement Center last Wednesday morning as passers-by on Interstate 90 in western Jackson County witnessed huge plumes of smoke ascending to the clouds. The fire originated from one of the six power-generating windmills on the Ewington Township Wind Farm, located south of Okabena just north of I-90.
Personnel from the Jackson County sheriff’s office as well as the fire departments from Okabena and Brewster quickly responded and the flames were brought under control.
The towers are operated by Suzlon Wind Energy, whose regional office is in Pipestone.
After the fire was controlled, the scene was turned over to Suzlon officials, who are conducting an investigation.
“We are still investigating a cause,” said Suzlon Vice President Ken Glazier. “The fire was controlled quickly and brought to a safe stop. There were no injuries and the damage was limited to the one cell.”
That cell is the main operating apparatus of the turbine, said Glazier.
Depending on what the investigation yields, at least the cell will have to be drastically repaired or replaced for that turbine to be functional again, he said.
The other five turbines on the site are operational and were not damaged, he said.
Suzlon operates some 10 wind farms in southwest Minnesota. A fire is unusual, said Glazier.
“It’s certainly unusual, but it’s not the first fire we’ve had,” he said. “On that site, we’ve had those six turbines in operation since 2003 without incident.”
A damage estimate was not available.
By Ed Gallagher
3 April 2008
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