WECT Television Tower
|From: Fayobserver.com By: Drew Brooks, |
Staff writer September 21, 2012
WHITE LAKE – The tallest manmade structure east of the Mississippi River came crashing down Thursday afternoon, the climax to an event that served as a learning experience for Fort Bragg soldiers and a fundraiser. The 2,000-foot tall television tower, along N.C. 53 south of White Lake, once belonged to Raycom Media and had towered over the pines in Bladen County for decades, according to officials.
Last year, the tower, which was made obsolete by the switch to digital signal three years ago, was donated to the Green Beret Foundation along with 77 acres. The charity, which helps the families of wounded and killed Special Forces soldiers, will sell the land and more than 1,000 tons of steel to raise money, according to Robert Schaezler, a lawyer who works with the foundation. A total dollar figure is not known, but the funds will go toward a number of programs, including scholarships and in vitro fertilization for Green Berets whose combat injuries inhibit their ability to have children.
The demolition itself set a world record for the tallest manmade structure imploded, according to Mark Loizeaux of Controlled Demolition Inc. Loizeaux said his company also owned the previous world record. Controlled Demolition is based in Maryland but has conducted a number of high-profile demolitions, including the Seattle Kingdome and the remains of the World Trade Center in New York and Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. “I have the best job in the world,” Loizeaux said. “It’s a lot like mowing grass. You can see what you’ve done.” The company conducted the demolition for free, according to Pat Melvin of Hilton Auction & Realty in Elizabethtown, which brokered the donation to the Green Beret Foundation. Typically, it would have cost up to $250,000, Melvin said. “The intent was to do something for a good cause,” said Loizeaux, who added that he was technically on vacation.
Loizeaux counted out the final 10 seconds before the first blast, which freed a number of support wires. A second blast, caused by 21 pounds of explosives, destroyed a leg of the tower. Gravity did the rest of the work, Loizeaux said, with the tower coiling in on itself before tipping over. Before and after the demolition, Loizeaux spoke with more than two dozen Special Forces candidates. The potential Green Berets were fresh off an engineer course in the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg. Master Sgt. Anthony Siriwardene, an instructor in the school, said the lessons from Loizeaux were an “invaluable experience” for the soldiers. “It was absolutely worth it,” he said.
The tower, once used by Wilmington-based WECT to broadcast more than 100 miles, was the seventh tallest structure ever built, according to officials. The land recently has been used for military training, Melvin said, with soldiers and Marines taking advantage of the relative isolation. Cleanup of the site is expected to take about two weeks, officials said. In the meantime, the land will be guarded to prevent thieves from trespassing.
Click HERE to watch the WECT Television Tower Implosion.