A wind energy company is still trying to figure out what caused a turbine fire in the Elkton area of Huron County on Monday.
Even after this fire and the collapse of another three years ago, Oliver Township Fire Chief Jim Seley believes the turbines are safe.
“This is the first time one has caught on fire from around here,” he said.
The charred remains of the generator of the wind turbine that caught fire late Monday afternoon is clearly visible from the Elkton Road. Seley said there was nothing firefighters could do except watch flames consume the unit themselves.
“It’s way too high and you are not going to save anything,” he said.
While small burning parts of the turbine came crashing to the ground, Seley wondered if the huge blades were next.
“The Exelon people were here and we asked them if there is a possibility that the blades could fall, and they really didn’t know for sure, but it’s a possibility,” he said.
The turbine is operated by Exelon Corp., which has not released a cause for the fire or an estimate on the damage that was done. Seley is not sure on a cause either.
“There’s a lot moving parts, gears up there, and something got hot to cause it to catch on fire,” he said.
There were no injuries. The other turbines at the wind farm were shut down for a time after the fire, by they were back up and running Wednesday.
The turbine that caught on fire is not far from the one that crashed to the ground in February 2016 in Oliver Township. Exelon said failed seals caused the turbine to break up and collapse.
At last count, there were about 500 wind turbines in Huron County.
“There have been some manufacturing defaults in some of them and it’s just going to happen when you have this many,” Seley said.
But he still believes having the wind turbines is a benefit to the environment and the economy.
“They bring a lot of revenue to our township,” Seley said.
Exelon could not be reached for comment on whether its ever had a turbine catch fire before.
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