On arrival crews were confronted with a smoldering solar panel on the roof of an old dairy now used as a shed. The residents were not home and access was difficult to establish the extent of damage, if any, inside the building. A member was tasked to make closer inspection of the panels and the roof, while another was tasked with isolating the power and gaining access to the building.
On the roof it was identified that the isolation switch that separates the panels, providing power to the house and the grid had melted. It was now a molten blob of plastic and copper wire. It continued to spark and smolder giving off bright and colourful flames in the process. A "Series Arc" fire, as described by former brigade member and owner of the renewable systems company "NRG Innovatiors Gippsland P/L" Shane CLAYTON, can burn at up to 3000 degrees Centigrade.
It was identified from access gained to the building that the damage was confined to the wiring with the damage ending where the wires entered the roof space. All power had been isolated to the shed at the power inverter's and main switchboard.
After discussing the options a decision was made to leave the fire contained and cordoned as it was still generating electricity through the panels which obviously could not be isolated. The owner arrived shortly after the brigade and contacted their electrician to attend.
While waiting for the owners contractor Shane CLAYTON arrived, who is a licensed electrical contractor. He rendered the roof and the panels safe, leaving the system in the hands of the owner and their electricians who arrived shortly after.
The cause of the fire was determined to be more than likely as water entering the isolation switch causing a short to the system. Shane states that there has been issues raised in the renewable energy industry recently of inferior products reaching the consumer but this can not be confirmed in this case. This serves as a timely reminder to only undertake works with a licensed electrician and maintain your electrical appliances.