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Fiery windfarm spectacular

A wind turbine burst into flames as hurricane-force winds battered parts of Scotland yesterday.

Firefighters were called as the huge 330ft turbine on the Ardrossan windfarm in North Ayrshire caught fire in the afternoon. However, the blaze died out within minutes of their arrival.

Resident Stuart McMahon, who took the picture, said the turbine was not operating at the time because of the severe weather conditions.

“I didn’t hear any explosion or anything, but my wife shouted for me to come down and see the fire,” he said.

“There are around 13 or 15 wind turbines in the farm above Ardrossan. They were all off today because of the high winds so something has obviously shorted out and gone on fire.

“The fire was out quickly, but some debris fell from it and drifted quite a distance in the winds.”

Wind turbines are fitted with an automatic cutout to prevent damage when the wind speed gets too high.

The cutout speed is about 55mph but can vary according to make.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “There is no reason as yet to suggest the Ardrossan windfarm damage was directly caused by the wind speeds.

“It is extremely unusual for winds to reach the kinds of speeds recorded in the last few hours, with gusts of up to 165mph disrupting public transport, bringing down power lines and causing structural damage.”

Ardrossan windfarm has 15 turbines capable of generating 2MW or electricity. It is operated by renewable energy company Infinis, of Northampton, which bought it from Scottish and Southern Energy in May 2010. No one was available for comment.

A spokesman for the National Grid said last night that 15,000MW of expected electricity had not been produced by lunchtime yesterday – enough to power 1million homes.

He said that turbines automatically shut down when it becomes too windy, and the grid had been able to find the energy elsewhere.