WVIA-TV Transmitter Facility Goes Down in Flames

SCRANTON, PA.: The signal of WVIA-TV was restored over the weekend after a fire on Friday destroyed the station’s transmission facility, local reports indicate. No injuries were reported.

WVIA, a PBS member station owned by the Northeast Pennsylvania Educational Association, said it “experienced a major electrical fire” at the transmitter site Friday afternoon. The signal was restored by Sunday on WNEP-TV’s Ch. 49. According to WNEP, the ABC affiliate in the Scranton market, WVIA is using one of its old transmitters.

“WVIA has redirected its signal from its original transmitter and tower to one previously used by WNEP-TV. By WVIA using WNEP’s old TV transmitter, viewers who get programming off an antenna can rescan their televisions to find the new PBS signal,” WNEP said. (Images are screen grabs from WNEP video.)

The Scranton Times-Tribune said the fire started as electricians worked on the building. An electrical arc was said to ignite ceiling tiles. Getting it put out was hampered by the facility location, accessible only by a one-lane dirt road.

WVIA’s transmitter facility was a complete loss. The temporary move to Ch. 49, from its official assignment at Ch. 41, required over-the-air households to do a rescan to find the signal. The Times-Tribune said the station is transmitting at the same power level it had before the fire. (Listed ERP is 171 kW.) The station will remain on 49 while it rebuilds at an estimated cost of between $1 million and $2 million.

The TV transmitter farm for the Scranton market is atop Penobscot Mountain, where an ice storm brought town WNEP’s tower and damaged WVIA’s.

The Scranton Times-Tribune has more at “WVIA signal restored after blaze.”