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Cheshire County DX ARC

Fire on Mt Washington

The "Rock Pile" goes dark

On February 9, 2003 sometime around 4:00pm a fire destroyed the former WMTW-TV (CH-8) building and the old Yankee Power House next to it.

Back in 1994, when I worked for WENH (CH-11 NHTPV), I worked installing a microwave repeater for our new transmitter on Holden Hill in Stewartstown, NH.  (I affectionately referred to this site in Stewartstown as "Canada".)  Anyway, our microwave receiver was mounted in the CH-8 building in the racks behind the WHOM FM transmitter and then we had to run a coax line over to our microwave transmitter which was mounted in the Yankee building.  I even video-taped almost the entire installation process including the interior of the WMTW TV building.

WMTW TV CH-8 had vacated the site almost exactly a year prior, Feb 4, 2002 to begin broadcasting from their new tower in Maine, however, WHOM FM 94.9 was still located in there and their transmitters have been destroyed.

All electricity was cut off when the fire broke out, and for the first time since people have been occupying the summit 24/7, over 70 years, it had to be evacuated and the summit went completely dark.  The entire electrical supply had been destroyed as well as the backup system.  The summits electricity was all generated at the top.  No form of cable, be them electrical or phone runs to the summit from the valley.  All communication is done via radio, including telephones.

I'm not sure exactly how much stuff was destroyed, but I believe that there were several microwave relays located in the old power house building.  The remainder of the radio systems up there are all located in the Yankee building and the Stage Office building, so although they are still intact, there's no electricity to power them.  Some of the Amateur Radio equipment lives in the Observatory building.

When I first learned of the fire on Monday morning, I had no idea that two buildings had burned up, and I guess actually at that time Monday, only one had - the WMTW building.  I initially thought it was contained to just the generator room, but then again, it's not like you can call the fire department to respond up there in the dead of winter!

I contacted my former boss at CH-11 and asked if our microwave stuff had been destroyed because I hadn't seen any pictures from up there and news was sketchy at best.  So, he forwarded a couple pictures to me taken by Dick Cushman.  Dick works for CH-8 and I got to know him when installing our system up there.  Unfortunately, I got my answer - yup, it sure was.....

Joel - WA1ZYX


Below are a couple pictures of the inside of the WMTW building.

Monitors & Patch Panels

December 14, 1998 Adam R. Jones  Obtained from Mt

Video equipment racks - Audio processing (L), Video processing & patch panels (C), Video monitoring, switching and VDA's (R).  I believe the Mosely remote control rack is on the extreme left, out of view.

CH-8 Solid State TV Transmitter

December 14, 1998 Adam R. Jones  Obtained from Mt

WMTW TV CH-8 Solid State Transmitter



Yankee Power House, TV Building & Towers

Obtained from the NorthEast Radio Watch Site

The Hipped roof building on the left between the two shorter towers is the old Yankee Power House building, the flat roofed building just to the left of the two taller towers is the WMTW TV building.  Both have been destroyed.  The shorter tower on the right is the original "Armstrong" tower and was CH-8's backup, the larger one behind it was CH-8's primary from about 1961.   And yes, the Armstrong tower was built by Major Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of FM!


TV Building in Flames


TV Building Ruins

Generator Ruins


Yankee Power House Ruins

Obtained from Mt Washington Observatory

The above photo of what's left of the Yankee Power House makes it appear that the WHOM backup tower may have sustained some heat damage, or perhaps the loss of a guy line, because it looks like it's leaning a little.

Overhead Photo of Burned Buildings

    I would have to say that this photo confirms that the tower is leaning.

Towers from Left to Right are:  WHOM-FM 94.9 Primary, WHOM-FM 94.9 backup (now leaning), Armstrong tower most recently WMTM-TV CH-8 backup, directly behind it former WMTW-TV CH-8 Primary, and finally WPKQ-FM 103.7 Primary.

After the Fire

After the Fire

TV Building Ruins

Overhead View of Ruins

Aerial photos taken by Drew Knightly, Yankee Microwave, Inc.

There are a lot more photos at the Yankee Microwave Mt Washington Fire site.

WHOM-FM Back-Up Antenna Damaged

This is what's left of the WHOM-FM 94.9 Backup Antenna.

Article appearing in "The Mountain Ear" about the Obs crew attempting to fight the fire.

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Monday, April 14, 2003

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