A massive fire at a wind turbine in Adair County destroyed the turbine and also burned a nearby farm field. As is typical, firefighters were helpless to put out the turbine fire.
STUART, IA — A large fire at a wind farm in Adair County, Iowa destroyed the turbine as well as set nearby cornfields ablaze. Firefighters could not put out the fire on top of the nearly 240 foot tall turbine and could only watch helplessly as it burned and rained down flaming debris onto the cornfields below. At one point, a burning blade fell from the turbine, landing in a cornfield and setting it ablaze. Eyewitnesses reported that black smoke spread towards I-80 and could be seen for miles.
The fire broke out on the morning of Tuesday, October 17th. Fortunately, the cornfields had already been harvested, so the damage was limited. But had the fire happened just a week earlier, it would have been devastating and likely destroyed an entire harvest.
Not all farmers are so lucky. As I reported in August, a wind turbine fire at NextEra’s Eight Point Wind Facility in New York completely destroyed an entire hay crop and contaminated the hay field with fiberglass. Six months later, that farm is still waiting for NextEra to make good on its promise that it would properly clean up the contamination, all while their legal bills have continued to mount because they needed an attorney to even get NextEra to compensate them for the loss of their crop that was directly ruined by the turbine fire.
Wind energy companies continue to tell us that turbine fires are rare. One study found that 1 in 2000 wind turbines catch fire every year (source: Firetrace International). Iowa currently has over 6,000 wind turbines. That means Iowa alone can expect more than 3 wind turbine fires every year, which would be bad enough given these fires are impossible to put out and can cause, and have caused, major damage to agricultural land. But the big problem here is that the true number of turbine fires is likely to be much higher. That’s because there are no mandatory reporting requirements for wind turbine fires. For every wind turbine fire we do know about, there are almost certainly several that we don’t.
Adair County dodged a bullet. But they only did so by about a week. And as NextEra proved in New York, farmers won’t always be so lucky. Russian roulette is not a game we should be playing with Buchanan County’s rich farmland.