TV reception restored after transmitter blaze

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The Independent Online

Around 400,000 homes had their television reception back today after a fire engulfed a 200m-high transmitter.

The blaze at the Beckley transmitter near Oxford yesterday cut the signal for thousands of homes in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

But the signal was restored around 9.30pm yesterday after the blaze burned itself out and engineers used a reserve antenna.

A spokesman for site operator Arqiva said the back-up transmitter would initially work on reduced power causing a temporary reduction in quality for some viewers, before full power was restored.

"An evening inspection revealed only limited damage to the structure itself and television services have resumed from the reserve antenna, initially at reduced power," he said.

"Investigations will continue to determine the cause of the fire and assess damage to the new main antenna. Some short daytime interruptions to services may be required to enable this.

"Arqiva apologises for the inconvenience caused to viewers in this area."

TV pictures in the homes affected went off yesterday at around 2.30pm.

Eyewitnesses reported smoke drifting from the top of the mast, also also saw parts of the structure falling off.

Firefighters had feared the structure could collapse and warned nearby residents to stay in their homes while they assessed the damage.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire was not yet known.

Cable and satellite services and analogue Five were not affected.