Controlled Demolition sets off charges, both towers fall

June 7, 2006

Doerun -- Controlled Demolition put all their other projects on hold to come to south Georgia to handle the WFXL TV tower emergency.

Trying to take down a heavily-damaged 1,000 foot tower without damaging an adjacent tower presented a unique challenge one the folks at Controlled Demolition felt they had to take on.     

Crews from Controlled Demolition spent Wednesday attaching explosive charges to the remaining guy wires on the damaged WFXL television tower. "We are going to be detonating about 27 different shaped charges to cut cables at various points on the north side of the tower. We'll be changing tension on some of the guys on the southeast and southwest side of the tower," said Controlled Demolition President Mark Loizeaux.

That wasn't company president Mark Loizeaux's initial plan, but after being on site for several days, he determined there's no way to take off the damaged top part of the tower, and no other way to safely bring the entire tower down. The tower is leaning and getting worse.

"There appears to be a creep. In other words as temperatures change during the day, the tower isn't coming back to it's original position. Creeping means the structure is slowly moving, developing a memory in the wrong direction."

They hope that intricate system of explosives on the guy wires will cause the tower to fall like a chopped tree. "I think the tower may likely lay out almost at its full height."  

The big problem is the guy wires for WALB and WFXL's towers criss-cross. If things don't go just as planned, the cables that stabilize WALB's tower will be severed and our tower will come down too. "If it does kick back, and that's not something we can control, if it kicks back it may well bring down the radian tower which is next to it because the guy wires of the two towers are interlaced," said Loizeaux.

Protecting the WALB tower is number two on the crew's priority list. Number one is keeping everyone safe. "We're gonna keep people back about 2,000 feet and hope for the best."

The best would be to demolish one tower, keep the other standing, avoid any injuries, and accomplish a mission few people in the world would even take on.

"We like what we do. We are challenged by things. We are challenged by anomalies by circumstances that present themselves that haven't been addressed before. This is certainly unique with the proximity and the interlacing of the guys of the towers."  

The outcome that was feared by the experts materialized, and both towers collapsed. Plans for potential replacement have not been announced