CROWELL, Texas - A North Texas wind farm is one turbine down thanks to what officials believe was a devastating lightning strike to one of the massive structures on Friday afternoon.
Videos from witnesses and firefighters showed the wind turbine generator ablaze and disintegrate in the sky over Crowell, Texas.
Doppler radar indicated there was plenty of lightning strikes around the Foard City wind facility before firefighters received the call about the high-altitude fire.
Crews with the Crowell Volunteer Fire Department responded, but Fire Chief Perry Shaw said there was little his firefighters could do to put the fire out.
"We’re not equipped to handle that kind of fire. Nobody in the area really is to speak of," Shaw said.
The fire chief estimated there were 800 gallons of oil in the gearbox and around 1,300 gallons of mineral oil in the ground-level transformer, which caused the smoke to appear dark black in the sky.
The facility’s operator, Innergex Renewable Energy, said all personnel at the more than 31,000-acre complex are safe, and the fire only impacted one of its energy turbines.
The Foard City wind farm has around 139 GE turbines and was commissioned in September 2019.
Shaw said he has seen plenty of videos of turbine fires, but this is the first time he recalled an incident involving one in Crowell.
"We’ve done training with the wind farm company, and they are not safe to approach during that scenario. There weren’t any people in danger of being hurt, so we let the fire do what it is going to do," Shaw said.
Texas produces more power from wind than any other state, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports the Lone Star State is home to more than 13,000 turbines.