Wind Turbine on Fire (1)

Sunderland Today|December 24, 2005
United Kingdom (UK)Safety
A HUGE wind turbine went up in smoke in a massive blaze seen for miles across Wearside.

The 200ft structure at the Nissan factory, part of a £2.3million wind farm built in August, burst into flames just after 12.30pm yesterday.

The fire was so fierce all three 75-ft long fibreglass blades eventually dropped off and thick black smoke could be seen for miles around.

Almost 200 people dialled 999 to alert emergency crews as flames engulfed the turbine.

Police closed both the A1231 and the A19 for an hour-and-a-quarter amid worries that parts of the metal tower could fall on to the busy roads.

The six turbines were bought second-hand at a cost of £1.1million, having been previously used on a wind farm in Germany.

Graham Bagley, from Nissan, told the Echo in August it did not make financial sense to buy new ones and claimed the turbines were in "excellent condition".

A spokesman for Nissan denied the turbines are unsafe.

"It is the same design that has been used in wind farms all over the world and as far as we're aware nothing like this has happened before," he said.

"If there had been any concerns about the turbines we would never have purchased them. "We're taking this very seriously and until we know what has caused this all six turbines will be shut down."

He said engineers from Vestas, the company who manufactured the devices, had been working on the affected turbine since an oil leak was detected on Thursday.

"It was the third turbine and is the nearest one to our test track," the spokesman said.

"Engineers were repairing it yesterday morning and they had restarted it when the fire started. As far as we are aware it was oil that caught fire and the blades then burnt through. They are made of fibreglass and they burnt right down to the metal shaft before falling off. Nobody was hurt. We have now shut down all the other turbines and engineers are carrying out checks on all of them. We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused by this."

Both the main roads were reopened at 2pm. A spokeswoman from Tyne and Wear Fire Service said: "We had seven fire engines in attendance and because of the risk of the structure falling onto the A19 police closed the road and the A1231.

"The majority of the structure eventually fell away from the road."

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