UMPI's wind turbine damaged in late-night fire

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - Officials at the University of Maine at Presque Isle have been busy today assessing damage done to their wind turbine.

According to UMPI President Ray Rice, the generator of the wind turbine caught fire around 10:45 last night.

Rice said that produced an electrical surge which caused a good portion of the University to lose power.

The fire was brought under control and Rice said it lasted a relatively short amount of time.

He says the fire was put out around 11 p.m. and the power outage lasted until about 1:45 a.m.

EmeraMaine responded and worked to get the entire university back online in just over two hours.

No one was injured as a result of the fire.

Rice says safety has been the University's primary concern throughout the whole process.

"When we built the structure back in 2008, we put it on university property but distant from traveled areas, so there was never danger to individuals no one sustained injuries no one was even close to it when it caught fire," said Rice. "The fire department made sure we had security around the site and we've had people watching to ensure no one gets close to it."

Rice adds that they're also making sure to clean up any debris coming off of the unit so as to protect the environment.

He says their service provider was on site today to assess the damage done to the turbine and it's obvious that there is serious damage to the unit, but they'll soon have a more clear analysis of cost and their next steps.

He also says this won't have any impact to the institution, as they'll operate as they would on any low wind or non-wind day.

The turbine has been operating for just under nine years and this is the first incident of this magnitude with the unit.