Susan Nichols lives one-tenth of a mile from a solar farm in the Jefferson County town of Lyme that saw its battery storage area catch fire Thursday.

It’s been five days of wondering what’s in her air and in her water, and she’s concerned.

“Basically [I fear] it’s in our well. Once it’s in our well, you’re not going to get it out,” Nichols said.

What You Need To Know

  • Thursday, the battery storage area of a solar farm in Jefferson County caught fire

  • Officials say there's a lot to learn about battery fires such as this and hope this is a chance for people to learn

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul has called for a working group to be created specifically for this purpose

And while there were 24 hours or so of concern over air quality, officials are no longer asking people to stay inside, or even wearing protection at this point — however, they admit with air or especially, water, no one can say anything with 100% certainty.

“We have no way of digging into the ground and answering that question," Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Deputy Director Niel Rivenburgh said.

That answer, he says — like everything else involved with this fire — will come in time.

Spectrum News 1 is told the storage area is no longer burning, but it is far too hot at this point for anyone to approach the direct area or determine any cause.

“We have all kinds of state officials here. It will be investigated at the highest of levels," Town of Lyme Supervisor Terry Countryman said.

For now, crews will continue to watch the fire to ensure it doesn’t reignite and secure the area, all while using the time to share information and help all the nearby departments better understand what they can do in a similar situation elsewhere.

“Not all of them have battery storage. Not all of them are built exactly alike, but there’s been an incredible opportunity to learn from this incident," Rivenburgh added, while saying split-second decisions need to be made in emergencies and the unknowns make that job incredibly difficult.

It’s an opportunity New York State hopes will only grow as Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered a special task force to be established to collaborate with first responders to better understand the safety aspects of these energy farms.

“And there needs to be strong education on lithium and how it is used in our communities across the board. It’s in your back pocket. It’s in your car. It is everywhere. We need to learn how to fight it best and how we’re going to bring it in to our communities," Countryman said.

Countryman says while he expects the investigation and environmental testing to take time, he adds that Convergent, the company which operates the storage facility, will be — with the help & guidance of the DEC — taking care of all remediation.

Spectrum News 1 is told once the heat in the immediate battery storage area cools off, allowing investigators and testers to start working, fire departments will be able to get back to normal — with only a few people needed on site, rather than full staffs.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the operator of the facility. It is run by Convergent, not General Electric.