Cell phone tower near Heritage High catches fire

Photo courtesy: Report it/Ashley Francis

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Insulation on a cell phone tower behind Heritage High School caught fire Tuesday morning.

Battalion Chief Steve Pincus, with the Newport News Fire Department, said the fire started as maintenance workers were conducting welding operations on the tower just before noon. The flames quickly spread along the insulation of wiring inside and outside of the tower.

Firefighters got to the scene along Marshall Avenue at 11:53 a.m. and found “a massive amount of fire at the base of the tower, with wires burning along the full length of the tower,” Pincus said.

At one point, the fire got so intense the tower started to lean and crews had to sent up a perimeter in case it fell. Pincus said additional fire units were called to the scene, due to the extremely hot weather conditions. They were able to control the flames in 25 minutes and completely extinguish it by 1:14 p.m.

There were not injuries, and no students were in danger at any time, Pincus said. The high school principal cancelled football practice, due to the fire.

Pincus said there was extensive damage to the tower, and it is completely disabled. Verizon and Sprint crews responded to the scene to assess damage. Dominion Virginia Power was also at the scene to disable all electricity going to the cell tower.

Sprint released the following statement Tuesday evening:

Sprint is aware of a fire that occurred at approximately 12 noon on June 16th at a Newport News, Va. cell site. The local fire department was able to contain the fire quickly. We are thankful no one was harmed as a result, and a full investigation is underway to determine the cause. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers, and plan to work aggressively to provide temporary coverage for the damaged cell equipment and eventually fully replace these resources in a timely matter.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


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