RHEDE – A wind turbine was severely damaged by fire at a wind park in Rhede. According to the operating company, Windpark Rhede GmbH & Co., the resulting property damage could reach 1.5 million euros. The fire department had to return to the burn site three times to address the situation.
A police spokesman reported that the fire initially broke out in the nacelle at around 3 o'clock on Friday morning and spread to the entire turbine. One blade of the wind turbine fell off after a short time while large parts of a second blade followed. Although the third blade did not burn, it threatened to fall after the nacelle was largely destroyed. The nacelle is located about 90 meters above ground making it impossible for the fire department to intervene. None of the ladders could reach the fire and the powerful pumps could not get water to such heights. "The turbine had to burn down on its own," said the police spokesman.
Stefan Schöpper, head of the local fire department in Rhede, reported that the burning wind turbine was already visible from the center of Rhede. "We did not have to search to find the fire this time", says Schöpper. The fire department moved out with two vehicles and 16 firefighters.
A brush fire also developed on an embankment due to falling parts from the turbine. By 7 o'clock the fire was under control and one of the two fire engines could leave with eight personnel. At the time, the windmill had mostly burned down, in addition, the capabilities of the rescue workers were less needed.
A service vehicle located right in front of the windmill suggested the turbine was undergoing maintenance. The maintenance car was badly damaged after a burning blade fell directly on it.
It was also this blade that was lying at the base of the tower in the late afternoon. By 5 o'clock in the afternoon, fire still persisted and the Rhede firefighters were dispatched again for a third time. Previously, the forces had already left a second time in the noon hours to extinguish a fire directly adjacent in a conservation area. It was not clear how that second fire was ignited.
The managing director of the operating company of the wind park, Alexander Jürgens, stated that the fire was likely caused by a technical defect in the machine. Jürgens estimated that the property damage could amount to up to 1.5 million euros. Experts would be called in to investigate the cause of the fire, and whether the burned-out turbine actually suffered a total loss. "Then we will decide our next steps and whether a repair is possible," Jürgens said.
The wind farm is located between the Dutch border and highway 31 in the northwestern tip of the municipality Rhede and the district of Emsland. It consists of 20 wind turbines for a total rated output of 42.2 MW and can generate up to 100 million kWh of electricity per year. Seventeen of the turbines are Enercon E-66 / 18.70 machines, each with a rated output of 1.8 MW, a hub height of 98 meters and a rotor diameter of 70 meters. The wind farm was expanded by three turbines over the past three years. All systems were managed by the Enercon service under an EPC contract (full maintenance contract), according to the operator's website.
Windmill burned down in Haren in August
This is not the first fire of a wind turbine this year in Emsland. At the end of August, a wind turbine burned in Haren. This was also an Enercon machine and maintenance work was suspected as the cause. In Haren, the amount of damage was estimated by the operator to be up to one million euros.
In July 2016 another turbine burned in the district of Renkenberger Melstrup-Siedlung. The wind farm operator estimated the damage at more than one million euros. The cause was a technical defect in the nacelle of the wind turbine.
Translation assisted using Google Translate