Cellphone tower catches fire in Sanford

SANFORD, Fla. — A cellphone tower caught fire Wednesday in Seminole County, according to fire rescue officials.

The fire happened on Historic Goldsboro Boulevard while cell tower crews were doing welding work, officials said.

Officials said there were four employees working on the tower at the time of the fire, and one off-site.

"They (workers) got down before we even got fire crews on the scene," said Sanford Fire Chief Tim Robles.

They were adding shaft and phalanges, fire officials said.

The workers realized they had to get down fast. They didn't have time to lower the bucket so they secured it and got down on their own.

Businesses were evacuated and roads within a 170-foot radius of the 127-foot tower were closed.

The city fire marshal said the heat made the metal expand, causing the tower to lean southward and said there was concern at one point that the tower would fall.

Once the fire was watered down and the metal cooled, it amazingly righted itself, the fire marshal said.

The city is waiting for an engineer's confirmation that the tower won't collapse and waiting for a crane to come in and take down the dangling bucket.

Witness Joey Hill said he'd never seen anything like it.

"Where you see the basket, pretty intense," Hill said.

The five workers were accounted for, and one was suffering chest pain, officials said. He was treated at the scene and is OK, said Robles.

"It's going to be minimum cellphone service in the area. Cellphone service might be spotty in the area, depending on who your carrier is," Robles said.

Firefighters said they are concerned that the cell tower could collapse.

The Barn, a country-western bar, was evacuated as a precaution.

According to Seminole County officials, Hwy. 17-92 is closed between 12th and 15th streets in both directions.

Southbound traffic on French Avenue/17-92 is being diverted to Elm Street south to 15th Street, returning back into French Avenue/17-92.

Northbound traffic on French Avenue/17-92 is being diverted to 15th Street north on Elm Street and returning to French Avenue/17-92.

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