Thousands suffer outages after fire at remote 1000ft TV transmitter

Thousands of viewers suffer Freeview outages across the north-east as firefighters tackle blaze at one of most powerful TV transmitters in the UK

  • Six appliances sent in response to fire at Bilsdale transmitting centre, Yorkshire 
  • The tower itself, which is 1032ft tall, is alight according to firefighters at scene
  • Tower was built in 1969 and supplies digital TV signal across much of north-east

More than 30 firefighters are tackling a blaze at one of the nation’s most powerful TV transmitters as thousands of viewers complain of a loss of signal across parts of the country. 

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said six appliances have been sent to tackle the blaze at the 1000ft-tall Bilsdale transmitting centre, high on the North York Moors, north of Helmsley.

Firefighters said the blaze included the tower mast itself, which is 315 metres (1,032 ft) tall.

Eyewitnesses in the area described a scene of chaos, with plumes of black smoke billowing from atop the hills and spreading throughout the Yorkshire valleys. 

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said six appliances have been sent to tackle the blaze at the Bilsdale transmitting centre, high on the North York Moors, north of Helmsley

Hikers Ron Needham, 71, and wife Sue, 69, were walking through the North Yorkshire Moors when they spotted dark smoke pouring out from the top of Bilsdale’s mast.

Ron told GazetteLive: ‘As we stood there looking, a huge cloud of black smoke was rising from the buildings at the bottom of the mast, and it continued for quite some time.

‘We hike quite a bit on the North Yorkshire Moors as we have a caravan at Helmsley, and we do that route fairly regularly, but I’ve never seen anything like that.’

NYFRS said in a statement: ‘North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are currently in attendance tackling a fire at Bilsdale transmitting centre, which includes Bilsdale mast.

‘We currently have six fire appliances and our mobile water bowser as well as command and control assets in attendance.

‘Crews are working hard to control the fire in difficult circumstances – it is unclear at this time if any of the centre’s transmitting capability has been affected or the cause of the fire which will be investigated in due course.

The transmitter (pictured above) was built in 1969 and supplies digital TV to huge swathes of the north east of England

‘NYFRS ask that members of the public do not go near to the site, particularly as this area has limited access and we need to be able to move vehicles and people around to help fight the fire.’

The tower was built in 1969 and currently supplies digital TV signals to a large area of north-east England. 

It is one of the nation’s most powerful television transmitters. 

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