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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Solar businesses emphasize safety following Best Buy fire

As an investigation continues into the cause of a solar panel fire that closed Best Buy for about two hours last week, local businesses with solar panel systems are emphasizing that solar is safe.

Barry Jacobson, the president of Solar Impact, said the company has installed about two-thirds of the solar panel systems in Gainesville, and it would be unusual if the panels caused the fire.

“It takes a very special situation for solar to be related to a fire,” he said.

Although Jacobson said it is not impossible for solar panels to cause a fire, he does not want the public to view solar panel systems as unsafe.

“I don’t want people to look at that and say, ‘Oh, solar is dangerous,’” Jacobson said. “In the case of Best Buy, we still don’t know if that was the case.”

AMJ Inc. of Gainesville, located at 502 NW 16th Ave., has had a solar panel system on its office building since the end of last year.

“If we do discover that the panels were a source, we’d like to know why so that we can make sure that doesn’t happen to us,” said Scott Buchanan, who is part of the management team.

Small World Daycare & Learning Center, 1214 NW Fourth St., has had solar panels in its facility since 2011.

Russell Scoates, the owner, said one of the reasons he decided to install the system was to use it as a teaching tool.

“I thought it would be educational for the children,” Scoates said. “We have a TV monitor installed by Solar Impact that shows how much electricity is being generated.”

He said he is not worried about his system being dangerous and has never had any issues with it.

“Being a child care center with kids in here, we’re very over the top with protection on the kids,” Scoates said. “I’ve got no concerns.”

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A version of this story ran on page 3 on 11/14/2013 under the headline "Solar businesses emphasize safety following Best Buy fire"

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