First, on June 1, an Army helicopter on a routine training flight clipped a guy wire and damaged a 1000ft television transmission tower owned by WFLX-TV in Albany, GA. Then, last week, when demolition crews attempted to take down the damaged tower, a second accident occurred, causing the television tower of another station, WALB-TV, to fall.
The first tower had been leaning since a U.S. Army helicopter en route from Hunter Army Airfield, near Savannah, to Fort Rucker near Dothan, AL, damaged it. The crash, in rural Colquitt County, killed four soldiers and injured a fifth.
Spokespeople for both WFXL and WALB-TV, also from Albany, said that when the first tower was toppled by workers using demolition explosives, a guy wire from the WFXL tower appears to have caught WALB's, pulling it down. The towers were only 150ft apart.
Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB, told the Associated Press that parent Raycom Media was aware there was a 60 percent chance his station's tower would fall during the operation. It was a chance Raycom chose to take with Controlled Demolition, the implosion and demolition company hired to topple the damaged tower.
“It began to fall like a tree just exactly like they planned but then the guy wires wrapped around the guy wires of WALB's tower and brought it straight down. It was a pretty rough thing to watch,” said Wilcox.
Both station's signals are now being broadcast at low power from a backup tower at WALB's Albany headquarters. About 10 percent of viewers of both stations are expected to lose broadcasts, the companies said.