MAHANOY CITY – Fire destroyed a section of a windmill at a Mahanoy Township wind farm Saturday morning.
The fire broke out around 8:15 a.m. in the hub mechanism of windmill T7 located at the Locust Ridge Wind Farm along Route 339 just north of Mahanoy City.
The windmill is located adjacent to windmill T8 where the mechanism caught fire and burned on Dec. 28.
Mahanoy City Fire Chief Dan Markiewicz 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 leave the fire burn itself out.
Unlike the Dec. 28 fire, Markiewicz said, Saturday’s fire had the potential to start a brush fire in the area due to embers falling from the burning mechanism.
“The potential for a brush fire was more significant than it was in December because of the wind and dryness,” he said.
The department initially sent one engine to the wind farm knowing there is nothing that can be done as far as extinguishing the fire.
With the windy and dry conditions, Markiewicz said he called for the Good American Fire Company tanker to come to the scene and stand by in case water was needed for a brush fire.
“In case that happened I wanted to have water if we needed it,” he said.
Markiewicz said firefighters remained on scene until about 9:50 a.m. and cleared when wind farm personnel arrived.
Firefighters sat and watched as the fire burned out by itself.
“There is nothing we could do, just let the fuel burn out,” the chief said. “After the fuel burns out, it’s just a matter of time.”
He also said one of the department’s members used his personal drone to allow firefighters to look at the burning mechanism since it was barely visible from the ground.
Markiewicz said Saturday’s fire was the fourth in the Mahanoy City Fire Department coverage area and that another fire broke out in a section of the farm not covered by the borough fire department.
“We’re getting used to it,” he joked. “It’s getting like a fire drill.”