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Fire has destroyed a wind turbine in South Australia’s Mid North, with the cost of the damage estimated at $2.2 million.
Country Fire Service crews were notified at about 8:50am of smoke coming from the top of a wind turbine at the Clements Gap Wind Farm between Redhill and Mundoora, south of Clements Gap Road.
CFS Region 4 duty officer Andrew Stuart said crews arrived at the scene within 15 minutes.
“On arrival, crews found a grass fire underneath the turbine and a lot of debris being thrown under the turbine [from the fire above],” Mr Stuart said.
“They conducted some successful backburning operations to make sure we could keep the fire contained this afternoon.”
He said the fire sparked below the turbine burnt about 30 hectares of grassland.
A fire truck with a wind turbine and smoke
About 25 Country Fire Service volunteers put out the fire, along with local farmers.(Supplied: Country Fire Service)
Cause of fire unknown
Mr Stuart said the cause of the blaze would be determined once the impacted turbine was dismantled, which would require contractors.
“The fire [was] about 120 metres in the air and the turbine is unsafe to provide investigation at this time,” he said.
“All the propellers are currently still attached but they are unstable.
“The wind turbine is fully burnt-out up the top in the hub location.”
The wind turbine’s owner Pacific Blue said no-one was hurt in the incident.
“As per safety protocols, the site has been secured and power to the affected turbine has been isolated,” a spokesperson said. “Investigations are underway to determine the cause.
“Pacific Blue remains committed to upholding the highest safety standards and will continue to work closely with relevant authorities to complete investigations.”
The CFS said cooler weather than usual weather helped firefighters deal with the blaze.
“Conditions were definitely in our favour today,” Mr Stuart said.
“Early this morning, temperatures were fairly mild, we had fairly high humidity and fairly low winds, which meant the grass fire wouldn’t spread too far.”
He said crews would remain at the scene until it was declared safe.
Lessons from previous fires
Mr Stuart said wind turbine fires were uncommon, there were several last year, including one at Port Lincoln in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
“Some lessons we’ve learnt in the past are that wind turbines can become very unstable, and throw debris across large distances,” he said.
“So early establishment of exclusion zones up to about 400 metres made the operation challenging, but kept our crews and fire unit safe on scene.”
About 25 CFS firefighters with six trucks, a bulk water carrier and two command cars attended the fire, supported by farm fire units.
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