MidAmerican wind turbine catches fire Thursday

~by The Perry News

A MidAmerican Energy Co. spokesperson said Friday morning the company is investigating the cause of Thursday night’s fire in a wind turbine north of Beaver in western Boone County.

“We’ve got our team working to investigate what caused the turbine fire and then what the next steps are,” said MidAmerican Energy spokesperson Kathy Krafka Harkema. “We really appreciate the support of the local fire departments and first responders. What we do know is all reports indicate that no one was injured. We appreciate that, and now we’re just looking into what caused it and what the next steps are.” Krafka Harkema said turbine fires happen relatively seldom.

“It’s rare, but it can occur,” she said. “That is something we prepare for. It is part of the nature of the business. Like any business, fires can occur, and we do all we can to help prevent the fires and if they do occur, we take actions to keep people safe and then to repair equipment as needed.”

It is uncertain whether the generator atop the 95-meter-high wind tower will need to be removed and replaced, the spokesperson said.

“It’s going to depend on what the team determines what might be the cause,” Krafka Harkema said, “but like any fire, whether it’s a home fire or a building fire or a turbine fire, we’ll look at what we know occurred and what we believe caused it and then take steps to prevent those kind of fires in the future.”

The wind tower is one of 85 put into operation last fall as part of MidAmerican Energy’s 170-megawatt Beaver Creek Wind Farm. The wind farm straddles Greene and Boone counties, with 41 turbines in Greene County and 44 in Boone County. A further 85 turbines are under construction in Greene County.

Boone County chief deputy sheriff Cole Hoffman said the fire was reported about 9:30 p.m. Thursday by a nearby homeowner. “This doesn’t happen very often,” Hoffman said. “In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it happening in our county.”

He said the Boone County sheriff’s office made a preliminary investigation before turning the scene over to the utility company.

“It doesn’t look like anybody’s reported any foul play yet that I’m aware of,” Hoffman said. “If we don’t observe anything suspicious, we leave it on the property owners or the engineers of the turbine company to make a determination, once they start looking and doing their own internal investigation, to make a determination if there’s anything suspicious and if it is, they’ll give us a call back.”

Krafka Harkema said she did not know how long the MidAmerican Energy investigation might take to complete. “We want to thoroughly investigate, and we just don’t want to speculate as to what the cause was without looking at all the facts,” she said. “Our first and foremost concern is always the safety of people, both people that work with our wind farms and also those volunteers and the first responders and the fire departments that are on the scene. We are so grateful and thankful for all of the local people that help deal with this situation.”

The Boone County Emergency Management Department, Ogden volunteer fire department and Grand Junction volunteer fire department also responded to the fire, which was confined to one tower on the north side of 190th St about one-half mile east of B Ave in Boone County.

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