"We never expected that to happen," said Rene Tartaglia, who lives near the turbine with his wife, Doreen Aucoin. "The windmill had been there for so long, and we'd had a lot of big wind."
There was a severe wind warning Tuesday night, with winds reaching 160 km/h, but it's unclear if that had anything to do with the break.
Inspectors were on scene Thursday taking pictures and assessing the damage.
Nova Scotia Power said no one was at the site at the time and no one was injured.
Tartaglia said the weather was foggy at the time of the collapse. "But I could see the debris was flying down towards the ocean. And after that I realized the windmill was no longer standing."
Tartaglia said he felt safe after the collapse, but his wife was more concerned.
"If it's too windy, then maybe it's not the right place for it," said Aucoin. "Because it is close to houses and I imagine the people up the hill ... they must have been scared because it was right near to their house."
Laurette Chiasson, a resident who has lived in the area for 59 years, said she's never had a problem with the windmill, though she was scared after the collapse about pieces hitting the house.
2nd collapse since August
The 50-metre tall wind turbine was made by Denmark-based Vestas.
It was built in 2002 and was one of the first in Nova Scotia with a single 660-kilowatt Vestas turbine. Nova Scotia Power said the model is the only one of its kind in the province.
The collapse was the second one on Cape Breton in the last few months.
In August, an 80-metre wind turbine collapsed in Point Tupper. It was believed to be the first catastrophic failure of its kind in Canada.
Maintenance crews were replacing a "major component" on Aug. 17 when "an incident occurred," said a spokesperson for Enercon, the Montreal-based company responsible for the turbines in Point Tupper.