A wind turbine outside of tornado-stricken Sublette, Illinois caught fire Tuesday morning, June 23, 2015 — the day after twelve tornadoes struck northern Illinois, and an EF-2 tornado with maximum winds of 130 mph passed nearby. Fire officials in Sublette said they did not immediately know the cause of the fire.
Heavy black smoke and flames billowed out of the gearbox, rotor shaft and brake assembly case of the horizontal axis wind turbine (W7). Most of one flaming propeller fell to the ground.
There are several Wind Farms in northwest Illinois, including The Mendota Hills Wind Farm — the first utility-scale wind farm in the state of Illinois, and located near Paw Paw in Lee County north of Sublette. There have been a total of 63 operating wind turbines constructed at the Wind Farm just west of I-39 and just north of Chicago Rd — north of Compton, Illinois and northwest of Paw Paw, Illinois. Each horizontal axis wind turbine is 214 feet tall and has three 85-foot long propeller blades. The wind farm was constructed from June 2003 to November 24, 2003.
The name of the Wind Farm where the fire occurred was not confirmed. Farmers and residents in the area have several concerns about the tower turbines, including how the towers and propellers are removed if the Wind Farms are decommissioned.
According to KWQC, Infigen Energy owns the wind turbine, and Infigen is investigating the cause of the fire. Wind turbine fires are known to be caused by failures of shutdown mechanisms, sensors, or braking mechanisms during extreme wind conditions.
Gene Leffelman, who farms the field the wind turbine where the wind turbine is located. A KWQC article reported that Leffelman thinks lightning had something to do with the fire.