Iowa firefighters battle burning wind turbine, secondary fire in field

The Williamsburg Fire Department arrived on the scene to find the top of the wind turbine fully engulfed in fire

By Mitchell Willetts
The Charlotte Observer

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa — Firefighters battled a burning wind turbine in Iowa and a secondary fire caused by pieces of flaming debris, according to officials.

The Williamsburg Fire Department, in eastern Iowa, responded to a call at 12:39 a.m. on Oct. 24, the department said in a news release. Minutes later, they arrived at the rural address south of Interstate 80 to find a flaming wind turbine, its head “fully engulfed” by fire.

Williamsburg is roughly 35 miles southwest of Cedar Rapids.

“This type of fire is unique and challenging,” the department said.

Falling debris and the massive turbine blades looming overhead all present additional dangers.

The field surrounding the turbine was also burning, firefighters said.

Firefighters secured the area and went to work extinguishing the flames.

With the fires put out, MidAmerican Energy workers showed up to the scene and “took over operations of the wind turbine” at 3:01 a.m., the department said.

Nobody was hurt during the incident.

MidAmerican Energy is looking into what could have caused the turbine to catch fire, a company spokesperson told McClatchy News.

“Safety is our highest priority, and we are working with the turbine manufacturer, Vestas-American Wind Technology, to determine what occurred,” spokesperson Geoff Greenwood said in an email. “As a precaution, we have taken several other turbines offline in the immediate area and will conduct additional inspections, as necessary.”

MidAmerican operates over 3,400 wind turbines across Iowa, according to Greenwood, who called Monday’s fire “an extremely rare occurrence.”

“We have experienced only one other fire of this magnitude in the nearly 20 years since we began operating our first wind farm. We are doing everything we can, along with the manufacturer, to ensure our wind turbines are operating safely to provide our customers with affordable and reliable clean energy,” Greenwood said.


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