WABC-TV back on air after studio fire


NEW YORK -- WABC-TV was back on the air Monday morning after a fire damaged equipment in its Manhattan studios and filled the building with thick smoke just before the start of an evening broadcast.

No one was injured, and the fire was quickly put out, but the smoke forced an evacuation that knocked out programming a few minutes before the 11 p.m. Sunday newscast. The station's viewers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were left with a black screen or color bars.

WABC-TV returned in time for a 5 a.m. newscast Monday morning, with the two morning anchors sitting at a cramped desk in what looked like an office.

As they put it, it was a "rough night."

Several shows are recorded at the WABC-TV studios, including "Live with Regis and Kelly."

The fire started when a studio light burst and a curtain caught fire, said Kenny Plotnik, the station's news director. The sprinklers went off and smoke inundated the building as about 50 staff members evacuated. A spokesman for the New York Fire Department said the cause was under investigation.

The station took viewers of its early morning newscast backstage of the main studio where the fire began, showing the blackened equipment and water damage.

The national ABC network has offices in the adjoining building, which was also evacuated but not affected by the fire, Jay Jonas, a deputy fire chief at the scene, told The New York Times.