A wind turbine at one of the largest wind farms in the country collapsed during a massive windstorm in western Oklahoma Tuesday.
According to Fox Weather, the incident took place at the Traverse Wind Energy Center on State Highway 47 in Custer County, Oklahoma, Tuesday. First responders arrived on the scene at around 4:30 p.m. local time Tuesday afternoon, where they found the wind turbine mangled and on fire. The turbine was apparently knocked over by severe thunderstorms that swept through the area, including multiple lightning strikes.
Video taken at the scene by News 9 Oklahoma City storm tracker Jeromy Carter shows crews responding to the scene. The video shows the turbine badly twisted and bent, with the top section of the tower folded in half and the generator housing on fire, while smoke billows out from inside the housing and around the structure. “This is a windmill struck by lightning,” someone in the video claims.
A spokesperson for the Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), which co-owns the Traverse wind farm, said in a statement, via Fox Weather, that as of Tuesday afternoon, the site had been secured and no injuries had been reported.
The company said that the cause of the collapse is still under investigation, but Fox Weather reported that there were a large number of lightning strikes in the Custer County area. Doppler radar from the area showed that the strikes were in a band between the towns of Putnam and Thomas. Someone in the News 9 video said that the scene was located just southeast of Putnam. The Public Service Company of Oklahoma did not report damage to any other part of the facility from the storms.
The Traverse Wind Energy Center is the single largest wind power farm built at one time in North America, and one of the largest in the world, according to a press release from American Electric Power, which owns PSO. The 998 megawatt facility came online in March, and is expected to produce 3.8 million megawatt-hours of energy annually. It includes a total of 356 turbines, spanning across Custer and Blaine counties, and is co-owned by PSO and the Southwestern Electric Power Company.
The collapse in Custer County comes just a few weeks after another turbine collapsed in northern Oklahoma. Video from local news outlet KOCO showed the turbine folded over itself in a field in the town of Ames, in Major County.
Another wind turbine collapsed during a thunderstorm in Crowell, Texas, in late July, after it was struck by lightning, as The Daily Wire reported. Video from the scene showed the windmill with one of its blades on fire, sending huge smoke circles into the skies behind it. The blade then disintegrated while the windmill was still spinning, before it fell limp onto the generator housing, setting the generator on fire. Another video taken by the Crowell Fire Department showed the windmill blade collapsing to the ground while the generator catches fire. Fire crews responded to the scene, but were unable to respond to the fire because there is no equipment or training to handle such a scenario.