Iowa Wind Turbine Catches Fire, Burns Farm Field

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A wind turbine burns in Adair County, Iowa.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.

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I'm a freelance writer who has published multiple technical books. I'm also a long time resident of rural Buchanan County who owns and takes care of two rescue horses. I am interested in preserving our rural farm land for the future of both our children and our animals.

2 thoughts on “Iowa Wind Turbine Catches Fire, Burns Farm Field

  1. We have had drought conditions all year. Now let’s add to it with wind turbines further drying out the soil per another article on this site. Conditions were just right for the match to be struck. And so it goes; another “rare” turbine fire that could have wiped out an entire crop of corn had it not been harvested just before this turbine fire. Brings back memories of the New York state farmer who lost his hay crop thanks to Nextera’s turbine fire. I hope that Buchanan County farmers are keeping this in mind.

  2. Iowa has already had its share of turbine fires. It’s just a matter of time before one is catastrophic and/or deadly. No one is equipped to deal with these fires. The turbines keep getting taller and taller, and the blades longer and longer. Who could even attempt to get close enough to a fire in what will be an almost 600 foot tower that is throwing burning pieces and blades in every direction? Where do you start putting out a fire in a massive dry field while those projectile pieces are starting new fires every few seconds? How far back do you have to stand to be safe? With the help of the wind, those flying pieces in the referenced New York turbine went over a mile. That puts a lot of lives, homes, barns and fields in the danger zone. And if you haven’t read the article here entitled “Study: Wind Farms Significantly Reduce Soil Moisture”, please do so. A dry year like this one is bad enough. Add extra dryness because of the turbines, themselves, and we have a major disaster waiting to happen. Buchanan County needs to protect the land, the livelihood, the homes and the lives of the families who live here.

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