(Translation from French to English assisted using Google Translate)
A fire at a wind facility at Murdochville in the Gaspé, occurred this week, raiseing questions about the readiness of firefighters in this type of event.
André Minville, director of Murdochville fire service received the call to 1:10 p.m. Wednesday: blazing wind park at Copper Mountain.
Mr. Minville and firefighters joined the company technicians NextEra Energy on site. They set up a perimeter and waited for the fire to calm. Nobody was injured. The fire destroyed a blade and the nacelle (central portion of the wind turbine, which contains the generator).
But by Wednesday, he had not discussed Minville once with firefighters event of a fire in a turbine, although 60 of these machines encircle Murdochville. As to attempt to extinguish the fire, "Anyway, we do not have the equipment, said Minville. The water jet would not go to 80 meters. "
It does not make sense to equip firefighters for these circumstances according to Minville, but "at least he should be trained in what we can do when it happens," he said.
The risk cover plan MRC Côte-de-Gaspé, which has five parks, does not specifically address the wind field. That does not mean that nothing is planned, says Stephen Couture, fire MRC coordinator, but these risks are addressed among others. The turbines would however need to become a "concern," admits Couture.
Third light wind
The wind fires remain rare. This is the third in 15 years in the Gaspé. In 1999, a fire damaged a boat in the Matane area. And in 2001, a machine of Le Nordais in Cap-Chat, had blazed.
Educated by fire in Cap-Chat, firefighters Haute-Gaspésie are now ready, Carol J. Dugas, Director of Fire Sainte-Anne-des-Monts service. "Our firefighters are aware. A security perimeter is erected, it is expected that the debris has finished and we're gonna fall off, "says Dugas. If the fire was spreading to the forest, SOPFEU will take over.
"There is not much to do except watch the wind turbine burn, says Dr. Dugas. This is not dangerous. This is a steel tube. Only the platform is burning. "Park employees, who work in pairs, are trained to" self-evacuate "if one remained stuck at the top of the turbine, says Dugas.
Wind turbines are often in the woods, out of sight of villages. However, sensors send a signal when a fault such as overheating of the motor is detected, explains Luc Leblanc, Cartier Wind Energy.
Despite these security systems, "we are not immune to accidents," Adrian Ilinca, director of the Laboratory of wind energy research at the University of Quebec at Rimouski. "These are machines that work all alone in extremely difficult conditions," Mr. Ilinca, adding that "there is no reason to panic" for events "still outstanding."
NextEra, who owns the park, is investigating the cause of the fire which remains unknown. The other 29 turbines continue to operate.
Gaspésie and Matane RCM has 15 wind farms, two-thirds of the total installed capacity in Quebec.