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Falling ice damages ABC21 facilities

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -UPDATE: Our engineers have restored the ABC21 transmitter and our signal has been returned to its regular home (channel 21.1). We expect to resume normal broadcasting of the CW Fort Wayne and the ABC21 Radar Channel (on 33.1 and 33.2) Wednesday morning.

Ice falling from an 800-foot-tall broadcast tower damaged the ABC21 building on Tuesday, allowing water to seep into the transmitter and forcing the station to move to an alternate frequency.

The chunks of ice began cascading onto the parking lot, a field and the main station building as temperatures rose above freezing.

The hail of ice continued through the noon hour.


It breached the roof of the room in which transmitters for WPTA TV (ABC21, Fort Wayne’s NBC and MyTV) and WISE TV (CW Fort Wayne and Radar Channel) are located. Water infiltrated the WPTA transmitter, knocking the signal of three stations off the air.

Engineers were able to route the ABC21 and Fort Wayne’s NBC channels to the WISE TV transmitter, restoring service to most viewers. ABC21 was available temporarily on 33.1 and Fort Wayne’s NBC on 33.2 — something that could last days, possibly longer.

MyTV, the CW and the Radar Channel were off line as of early afternoon.

Specialized crews were on their way to Fort Wayne to assess the situation and begin repairs. There was no immediate time frame for completion.

At least one vehicle sustained damage: a shattered windshield.

No one was injured and the stations were otherwise operating normally.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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