On October 29, 2013, a crew of four engineers in Ooltgensplaat, Netherlands, were conducting routine maintenance on a 220-foot wind turbine when it suddenly caught fire. That burning wind turbine, and the image of two men standing on it, has become iconic to many. Here’s what happened.
Burning Wind Turbin – Netherlands
When the fire broke out, it almost immediately engulfed the only escape route, which was the staircase leading into the shaft. Although two of the men were able to reach safety in the staircase, two of the crew, ages 19 and 21, became trapped on top of the fiery turbine with no way out.
Instead of succumbing to the flames, one of the guys decided to choose his fate and jump down. His body was later discovered in a field next to the turbine. The other victim’s body was found on top of the turbine by a firefighting team that arrived once the fire died down.
The photo you see above was captured during their final moments — they appear to be embracing each other.
According to a post on Reddit, the firefighters were “fairly powerless” to do anything to fight fires on wind turbines. Likewise, maintenance crews have limited means and training to escape an emergency situation.
“The tragedy in Ooltgensplaat has lead to a political inquiry (‘kamervragen‘ in dutch) into safety precautions for wind turbine maintenance crews,” the Reddit user states.
Can you imagine what must have been going through their heads? What do you think they said to one another in those last moments knowing that they were going to die?
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