If you were watching WABC 7 last night, you noticed that it suddenly went black - and stayed that way until around 1AM. The studio needed to be evacuated after a smoky fire started near the set of Live with Regis & Kelly at its Columbus Avenue and 66th Street location. According to the NY Times, a "light bulb had set a curtain on fire." Here's what WABC 7 said during their segment about the fire:
The fire broke out on Channel 7's main studio before the 11:00 p.m. Newscast, an electrical malfunction set fire to a large stage.
"We noticed a flame of about 4 to 5-feet high. We alerted everybody that there was fire. And within 30 seconds, it had gone right up to the ceiling and started curving over the roof," said stage manager Smith Sumroy
There was no question, everyone had to get out right away.
Cameraman Lou Torellas said, "as soon as and we said we got a fire going, all of the sudden, it went boom and the whole thing, I looked back at the set, there must have been 10 to 15-foot flames flying up to the ceiling".
Firefighters moved in, the set burned as the smoke filled the building. Evacuation went quickly as the last of the Eyewitness News staff made it to the street, it got ugly. Smoke in the lobby was thick enough to blind you an choke you. Firefighters went to oxygen as they headed in the door, they quickly vanished in the smoke.
Luckily, no one was injured. The studio looked totally damaged, though the news desk is still intact. The deputy fire chief, Jay Jonas, told the Post, "The biggest problem was the sprinkler system - it caused a lot of smoke and carbon monoxide."
Our TV/media contributor Toby Von Meisterslinger reported that WABC got back on the air around 1AM or so showing the West coast ABC feed, which was showing Brothers & Sisters, with no local ads. At 2AM, they are showing the ABC East coast feed with World News Now, and it didn't look like they had local ad capacity. He added that given what happened after a fire at WNBC 4 over ten years ago, some WABC 7 news programs may have to broadcast from another network-owned studio.