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Bensalem Cell Tower Goes Up In Flames, Forcing Evacuations

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By Oren Liebermann, Jericka Duncan, Dan Wing

BENSALEM, Pa. (CBS) — Firefighters were called Friday morning to battle a fire at a cell phone tower in Bucks County, Pa.

The fire was reported just after 11 a.m. in the 2200 block of Byberry Road, behind the Bensalem Public Works facility.

Police say a welder’s spark 80 feet up on the cell phone tower caused the massive fire.

“I looked to my right and saw flames going up the pole, just flames and smoke,” said eyewitness Andre Harris.

According to authorities, a maintenance crew working on the tower noticed the fire and called 9-1-1. Fire, police and EMS crews arrived on the scene.

“The tower is not stable,” Bensalem Township Public Safety Director Fred Harran said earlier in the day. “We have measuring gear on it. The tower continues to bend as we sit here.”

The fire started at the top of the tower. Chopper 3 captured images of flames engulfing the tower. After the fire was out, officials said they are concerned the tower might collapse before it could be removed in an orderly fashion. 

Firefighters couldn’t use water or foam on the fire because of electricity running through the tower, so authorities say they had to contain the fire and wait for it to burn out. Then they secured the leaning tower with cranes to get ready to bring it down.

The tower had been standing for most of the afternoon into the evening and was slowly brought down from that position around 9:45 Friday night until it was safely lying on the ground.

Investigators say there was no interruption in communications as a result of the fire.

As a precaution, the Bensalem Woods Apartment complex and the public works building were initially evacuated, but that order has since been lifted.

“No residents at this point are in danger,” said Sergeant Andrew Aninsman of Bensalem Police.

Some people said they were inconvenienced Friday, but no injuries were reported. At the end of the day, there was no structural damage to anything but the cell phone tower. It is expected to be replaced in the near future.

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