Workers injured in Vestas turbine fire in Nebraska

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A fire inside a Vestas 3 MW turbine at the 81 MW Elkhorn Ridge wind farm, under construction near Bloomfield, Nebraska, injured three workers last month. One victim, working atop one of the project's 27 towers when the incident occurred, was hospitalised with first and second degree burns. Two others were treated for smoke inhalation. All three were employed by Denmark's Vestas. Newspaper accounts reported the fire began with an explosion, but Vestas' Roby Roberts will only confirm there was a fire. "It's extraordinarily rare," says Roberts. "We're absolutely certain that this is an isolated incident. We've got all the internal things engaged to fully understand what happened. We have experts who deal with this and we have procedures and protocol to learn from." The project is owned by Edison Mission Electric (EME) of Irvine, California, which is involved in the investigation of the fire. "There are a number of ideas, but they need to be confirmed," says EME's Susan Olavarria. As a result of the fire the project was not completed as intended by the end of 2008. No new completion date has been set. "Obviously, we can't go back into doing any electrical work on the project until the cause of the problem is identified and corrected," Olavarria says. "But any other non-electrical work is still being done." EME, a division of California-based Edison International, has 25 US wind developments and nearly 1200 MW under its belt, with 21 projects up and running and four under construction. Elkhorn Ridge, which has a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Nebraska Public Power District, will more than double Nebraska's online wind capacity.

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