(From the CGC Communicator) A fire that started at the KBRT(AM) transmitter plant on Catalina Island near Los Angeles apparently ignited the 4,200- acre wildfire that ravaged the island’s interior and threatened Avalon, the resort’s main town. One home and six industrial buildings were lost but no one was seriously injured. The fire is expected to be fully contained by Tuesday evening.
According to a published report supplemented by information from the island, a tower contractor hired by KBRT had been warned against using a cutting torch because of dry brush fire danger.
While the station’s transmitter engineer, Bill Agresta, was inside the transmitter building and temporarily away from the work site, the contractor used a gasoline-powered circular saw to cut metal, and sparks from the blade apparently ignited the brush.
Bill reportedly said he saw a small blaze when he went outside the transmitter building. Then he ran back inside to call 911.
By the time he went outside again, the fire had moved several hundred feet downhill and engulfed the contractor’s tool truck – the blackened hulk of which remained at the site as of Saturday.
Commercial power and telco lines feeding the “KBRT Ranch” (as the transmitter site is known) were destroyed in the fire. The station resumed operations Sunday using its own power generator and CDs hand-carried to the island for programming. Joel Saxberg is reportedly at the site attempting to set up a Ku-band satellite downlink as an STL, but is said to be having trouble acquiring the satellite. As of 9:30 AM Monday, the station was off the air again, but this time voluntarily until the program feed bugs are resolved.
Meanwhile, Bill Agresta is nursing some fractured ribs suffered when one of the construction workers commandeered his tractor and accidentally ran into him during the fire melee.