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Pennsylvania’s WVIA Recovers From Fire

'It is a wonderful thing … All the engineers get together'

Northeastern Pennsylvania pubcaster WVIA(TV/FM) is trying to recover from an electrical fire at its transmitter site.

The Scranton-Wilkes Barre broadcaster said TV Channel 44 is available in high definition and the FM station is operating on 89.9 MHz at low power. According to a message on its Web site, the FM expects to have a power upgrade in place by the end of the week.

An electrical fire got out of control Friday, according to WVIA’s Bill Kelly. He said the WVIA-44 transmitter building on Penobscot Mountain appeared to be a total loss and estimated damage at $1 million to $2 million.

WNEP(TV) is allowing WVIA to use one of its television transmitters until the pubcaster can rebuild a transmitting center and acquire new towers, which could take months, Kelly told the Times Leader.

“It is a wonderful thing to watch what engineers do when one of their stations has been hurt. All the competition is forgotten. All the engineers get together. They share their knowledge, they share their equipment and collectively solve a station’s problem,” Kelly stated.

VP of Engineering Joe Glynn said several television and radio stations have offered to help get the public broadcasting station back on the air. He told the Times Leader that the station was rerouting an FM transmitter it had ordered for its Williamsport location to Wilkes-Barre to replace the destroyed unit.

“Radio is actually harder to get on the air than television, so our radio station will be probably be back on the air Thursday or Friday, maybe earlier. By the end of the week for sure,” Kelly told the paper.

The station plans to rebuild its transmitting center in Mountain Top, he said.