Page last updated at 21:04 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 22:04 UK

TV back at 400,000 homes after Oxfordshire mast fire

Transmitter fire
The fire started near the top of the Beckley mast

About 400,000 households have had their television reception restored after a fire at an Oxfordshire transmitter.

The fire engulfed a brand new antenna that had just been turned on in advance of the area's digital switchover in 2011.

Arqiva, which operates the site, said reception had been restored by 2130 BST from a reserve antenna.

The Beckley mast transmits across Oxfordshire and parts of Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

Spokesman Bruce Randall said the reserve antenna was working on reduced power and that some people might notice a temporary reduction in quality.

But he said his engineers hoped that would be resolved by 2300 BST.

"We're expecting full power in a couple of hours' time - that's the plan."

'Daytime interruptions'

Mr Randall said engineers would inspect the damaged antenna on Friday, and that an investigation into the cause of the fire, which started at 1400 BST, had begun.

"There may be some brief daytime interruptions in service tomorrow, as we allow people to climb up the transmitter," Mr Randall added.

He said households had been getting their TV reception from the reserve antenna for months, while the digital antenna was being installed.

"Today didn't go according to plan, but if it had, we would probably have let services continue to run on the new antenna.

"These things have to be tested in real situations."

Cable and satellite services and Five's analogue signal were not affected by the fire.

Eyewitnesses saw smoke drifting from the top of the mast at about 1420 BST - when pictures went off - and reported parts of the structure falling off.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire, which started 150m (492ft) up the mast, was not yet known.

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