Friday, July 15, 2011

Mediumwave back-up to cover two serious fires in FM Towers in Netherlands

Rather spectacular fire this afternoon in the TV/Radio/Mobile mast in Hoogersmilde in the province of Drente. A fire broke out at 12 hrs UTC in the top section of the mast which houses antennas, leading to its total collapse as shown in the video above around 90 minutes later. No-one was injured. The area around the mast was cleared by the police but it is farmland and no damage was done to property. A horse was slightly wounded by some of the flying debris. The video was made by the local Radio and TV station, RTVDrenthe.

Engineers working in the tower discovered the fire and concluded it was unsafe to continue. They evacuated the tower and called the emergency services. Fire fighters were quickly on the scene but it quickly became obvious that there was little chance of fighting the fire, since it occurred 80 metres above the ground.

Digitenne (digital terrestrial TV service similar to UK's Freeview) has been off the air as well as the local repeaters for Sky Radio, Radio Veronica, BNR, Slam!FM, Q-music and 100procentNL. They are working on efforts to restore services.

The programmes of Radio 1 (national public radio news network) have replaced the music programmes on Radio 5 broadcast on 747 kHz AM from the Flevopolder.

FM reception in Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and parts of the province of Overijssel of both public and commercial networks has been seriously affected.

But the problems are infact wider, extending into areas around Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam which are served by another transmitter site. Earlier in the day a smaller fire also broke out at the TV/Radio mast in IJsselstein (Lopik) which means that transmitting centre is also off the air until further notice while the site is inspected by the fire departments and police.

Early official statements indicate that the two fires were not related, but it's too early to draw definite conclusions. The public FM radio networks of Radio 1, Radio 2, 3FM and Radio 4 have lost around 75% of their national coverage as a result of these two fires. Cable and satellite relays of the programmes have been unaffected. Source., nosnieuws. There are also more photos and video on the website of RTVDrenthe, which is running a special page instead of its usual website. I note the BBC site carried these pictures but without sound...perhaps they realised that people next to the camera were swearing. I think I would have done the same....
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