October 29, 2013
A fire starts in a wind turbine, trapping two workers at the top
On October 29, four engineers were performing maintenance on 12 turbines at Deltawind’s Piet de Wit wind farm in the Netherlands. A fire began in the engine room and, while two of the workers were able to escape the blaze with their lives, two more were stranded at the top of the structure. (According to a witness, the two spared from the fire jumped through the flames into a stairway while the other two hesitated.)
The height of the turbine was between 67 and 80 meters (sources vary) or 220-260 feet and, as such, firefighters were unable to combat the blaze and rescue the trapped employees. One of the men was found at the bottom of the turbine, having either purposefully jumped or accidentally fallen, while the other was retrieved hours later. A photograph was taken of the men as they embraced shortly before their deaths.
The identities of the men were later revealed to be Arjan Kortus (21) and Daan Kous (19). The company told reporters during a press release, “The loss of the two colleagues is indescribable and heartbreaking. The company’s heartfelt condolences go out to the relatives of the two employees.”
The company conducted an investigation into the cause of the fire and announced it had started with a short circuit. Further investigation performed against the company determined it was not criminally responsible in the deaths of Kortus and Kous, to the disappointment of their families.
Five years later, in 2018, safety requirements for the workers in the industry were re-examined. Arjan Kortus’ mother told reporters, “The accident with Daan and Arjan was already five years ago. It is sad that still no or insufficient measures have been taken to guarantee safety.”
“Na tragisch overlijden: Nieuw onderzoek veiligheid windturbines.” Nijkerkerveen. July 27, 2018. Accessed: October 29, 2020. https://www.nijkerkerveen.org/na-tragisch-overlijden-nieuw-onderzoek-veiligheid-windturbines/ (Dutch)
Polman, Joris. “Ouders omgekomen monteurs windmolendrama verdrietig en boos.” De Telegraaf. January 26, 2018. Accessed: October 29, 2020. https://www.telegraaf.nl/nieuws/1589408/ouders-omgekomen-monteurs-windmolendrama-verdrietig-en-boos (Dutch)
“No criminal prosecution after windmill accident.” Barneveldse Krant. Accessed: October 29, 2020. (Original Barneveldse Krant link, now dead: https://www.barneveldsekrant.nl/lokaal/geen-strafrechtelijke-vervolging-na-ongeluk-windmolen-339877; archived, translated to English via Google Translate: http://www.windaction.org/posts/50639-no-criminal-prosecution-after-windmill-accident#.X5s1XqROLDs)
“Omgekomen monteurs werkten voor Barnevelds bedrijf.” Fok.nl. October 30, 2013. Accessed: October 29, 2020. https://frontpage.fok.nl/nieuws/623637/1/1/50/omgekomen-monteurs-werkten-voor-barnevelds-bedrijf.html (Dutch)
Raftery, Miriam. “Dual deaths in wind turbine fire highlight hazards.” East County Magazine. October 30, 2013. Accessed: October 29, 2020. https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/dual-deaths-wind-turbine-fire-highlight-hazards
Graanoogst, Audrey. “Dead in Ooltgensplaat wind turbine fire.” NL Times. October 30, 2013. Accessed: October 29, 2020. https://nltimes.nl/2013/10/30/dead-fire-wind-turbine-ooltgensplaat
“Omgekomen monteurs werknemers Barneveldse Bettink.” Reformatorisch Dagblad. October 29, 2013. Updated: October 30, 2013. Accessed: October 29, 2020. https://www.rd.nl/vandaag/binnenland/omgekomen-monteurs-werknemers-barneveldse-bettink-1.347358 (Dutch)