Great balls of fire: Wind turbine erupts in flames in 165mph gales

This picture shows the moment a huge wind turbine erupted in flames after it was struck by hurricane-force winds in Scotland.

Local photographer Stuart McMahon from Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, snapped the fireball as it wrecked the turbine.

McMahon said the blades on the 100m-tall mast had been braked and were not turning as the ferocious winds swept across Scotland.

“It was clear that the turbine caught fire first and the flames spread to the covering of the blades,” he said. “There was debris still on fire being swept off in the wind and across the fields.

“These are huge structures and to see one on fire was a spectacular sight.

“The fire must have lasted for about 15 or 20 minutes until the fire brigade turned up to put it out.

“The blades then turned freely in the wind and the turbine span around on the mast.”

The Ardrossan wind farm was sold by Scottish and Southern Energy to Infinis last year for £54 million. It comprises of 15 turbineswith the capacity to power about 29,500 homes.

A second wind turbine was also brought crashing to the ground near Coldingham Village in the Border region.

Other parts of Scotland were bruised and battered by the hurricane-strength winds that the Met Office confirmed reached an incredible 165mph on the Cairngorm summit.

Police warned the public to stay indoors as uprooted trees and flying debris blocked several major roads and railways lines and Scotland’s three main airports were forced to cancel more than 100 flights.

Schools and colleges had been closed for the day after the Met Office upgraded its severe weather warning advice overnight.