David Southwell for Daily Mail Australia
00:08 EST, 5 January 2023
Wind Turbine Catches Fire in NSW
A wind turbine has been destroyed in a spectacular blaze that fire crews could only watch from ground level. The NSW Rural Fire Service was called out at 6am on Thursday as fire consumed the top of wind turbine, which was located just off the Hume Highway near the NSW Southern Tablelands town of Breadalbane. With the rotor hub and one of the blades ablaze 90 metres off the ground there was little fire crews could do but make sure there were no resulting spot fires.
‘No firefighting resources were able to reach it so our job was to be on the ground and monitor for any grass fires of which there were none,’ said a NSWRFS spokesperson. ‘There were no threats to any other properties.’
The Rural Fire Service said it had become widely accepted worldwide that putting out high turbine fires was too dangerous.
‘Speaking with the owner and operator it seems to be industry practice across the world that they just let it burn, for safety and access you can’t really get up to it when its on fire,’ the spokesperson said.
‘You don’t want water and electricity to mix, power was isolated to structure and we basically had to wait for it to self-extinguish.’
The fire did eventually go out by itself just before 11am.
The sight of the towering inferno sending up a trail of black smoke startled many motorists along the Hume Highway. The NSW RFS said they had numerous calls about the incident, with the attending fire trucks not being visible from the road.
‘A lot of passing motorists were calling triple zero but crews we were onto it pretty quickly, the fire service spokesperson said. ‘It certainly was very spectacular in terms of being seen from the highway and other areas due to the height and what structure it was.’ The turbine has been handed back to the wind farm operator.
In terms of its high altitude the fire serve spokesperson said it wasn’t the typical thing they responding to. ‘It’s certainly very unique because at this time of the year we are usually responding to grass fires,’ the spokesperson said. The spokesperson wasn’t aware of any previous such wind turbine fires.
There was no immediate apparent cause of the fire but international studies show between 1-in-2,000 to 1-in-15,000 wind turbines catch fire. With more turbines being installed and existing ones ageing the frequency of such incidents is predicted to rise.
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