MAHANOY CITY – Fire damaged a windmill Monday afternoon in Mahanoy Township.
Around 2:45 p.m., firefighters from Mahanoy City’s West End Fire and Rescue Company were called to the Locust Ridge Wind Farm along Route 339 just north of the borough.
Mahanoy City Fire Chief Dan Markiewicz said the fire was in the hub mechanism in windmill “T8,” located about a mile east of the entrance to the wind farm at Route 339.
The chief said windmills use oil and other petroleum products in day-to-day operations and it was those petroleum products that were on fire.
Since the windmill structure is between 200 and 300 feet tall, Markiewicz said, there was nothing crews could do except to make sure falling burning debris did not start other spot fires and basically let the fire burn itself out.
“There is nothing we could do (but) just let the fuel burn out,” he said. “After the fuel burns out it’s just a matter of time.”
Markiewicz said firefighters were able to observe the fire and check for spot fires with the assistance of Mahanoy Township Police Chief Brandon Alexander and his drone.
“With the drone, we’re able to see where the fire was and also make sure no other fires were started by falling debris,” Markiewicz said.
He said one thing in favor of firefighters was the ground is saturated from recent rains and snowfall, practically eliminating the possibilities for brush fires.
“We had a good crew so we just let it burn itself out,” the chief said.
Markiewicz also said firefighters and apparatus were ordered to stay a distance away from the windmill to stay out of harm’s way in the event something would fall as a result of the fire.
No injuries were reported and no apparatus was damaged, he said.
Markiewicz said he is familiar with the particular windmill where the fire started.
As a member of the West End Fire and Rescue Company, the chief said he was able to take part in confined space rescue drills in that specific windmill.
“It’s ironic but that was the tower that we practiced our drills on,” the chief said.
Markiewicz said he was in Frackville when the call came in and saw the fire as soon as he got on the Gold Star Highway.
“I could see it from Frackville and other people saw it from Interstate 81 and further away,” he said.
Markiewicz said Monday’s fire was the third in the Mahanoy City Fire Department coverage area and that another fire broke out in a section of the farm not covered by Mahanoy City.
“This is my first one as chief and the third one I’ve been at,” Markiewicz said.
He said crews remained on the scene for about three hours, only leaving after the fire appeared to have burned itself out.