From pv magazine USA
The cause of a fire on the roof of an Amazon Warehouse in Perryville, Maryland, has been deemed to be an issue with a rooftop solar system, according to Susquehanna Hose Co.
The State Fire Marshall has ruled the fire as accidental. No one was injured in the incident.
The fire, which caused an estimated $500,000 in damages, is the second such rooftop solar system fire to occur at an Amazon facility in as many years. In April 2020, the roof of an Amazon facility in Fresno, California, caught fire due to a section of 20 panels on the roof.
Across the country, solar system fires have been on the rise since 2015, when Lawrence Shaw, owner of Higher Powered, LLC, a company that does residential solar preventative maintenance (PM) in Arizona, reached out to the the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to request the data on these events. While the USFA doesn’t specifically track solar fires as their own category, they are recorded and have risen steadily every year, from 25 in 2015 to 56 in 2018. Solar system fires are much more common in the southwest – specifically California, Arizona, and Nevada – but they are by no means a geographically limited phenomenon.
Shaw believes that regular infrared imaging of residential projects could cut instances of fire down immensely, as many of these instances are started by hotspots, small instances of failure, and thermal events that can be picked up by infrared imaging.
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UL and the NEC should examine the need for self-evaluating components of Solar and Storage systems Internationally, since generally normal systems installs have been reported as having system fires from hotspots developed from nominally performing systems that have defective connection failures, or are impacted by lightning strikes or animal interferance. Alerts to impending thermal failures could easily prevent such events from spreading or accelerating. That would save money and lives!
Was a single installation contractor involved with all fires? If not, was a single design involved in all fires? How many fires at non-Amazon PV installations have occurred around the country in the same time frame? An investigation of the Amazon fires should reveal a cause very quickly…this isn’t rocket science.
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