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Fires cut service at two Dutch broadcasting towers

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HILVERSUM - Apparently unrelated fires in the Netherlands have disabled two tall communication signal transmission towers within hours of each other, knocking off radio and television in large parts of the country. Both structures have been in operation for fifty or more years. The top section of the Hoogersmilde tower in the northeastern region collapsed in flames. Fire fighters had withdrawn from the tower shortly before it collapsed while police had already cordoned off the area around the tower. The cause of the fire that raged 100 metres above the ground is being investigated. Hours earlier, a short-circuit caused a fire at the Gerbrandy communication tower (long the tallest structure in the Netherlands), near the central Dutch town of Lopik. The fires left officials struggling to provide crucial communications services. The emergency transmitter that took over from the Gerbrandy tower experienced difficulties coming on stream. The Hoogersmilde tower will be replaced by an emergency structure to be erected at an Assen military site. The Lopik (1961) and the Hoogersmilde (1959) transmitters sat on concrete bases of respective heights of 100 and 80 metres on which partially guyed aerial masts were erected, topped by antennas. At a total height of 366.8 metres, the Gerbrandy tower is the tallest structure of its kind in Europe and, when outfitted with lights during the Christmas season, is at night the tallest Christmas tree in the world. The Hoogersmilde structure has a total height of 303.5 metres.