Fordland, Missouri, TV Tower Collapse Leaves One Dead, Five Injured

A TV tower in Fordland, Missouri, collapsed, killing a worker on the ground and injuring three others, KOLR-TV (Springfield) is reporting.

Early Thursday morning, six people were working on the tower performing “routine maintenance.” They were about 105 feet in the air when the tower, owned by Springfield PBS affiliate KOZK and operated by Missouri State University, collapsed.

According to Logan Rogersville Fire Protection District Chief Rob Talburt, three people were injured in the collapse of the nearly 2,000-foot tall tower, and one person was killed (in fact, five people were injured; more in the next paragraph). The person killed was working on the ground. The three injured workers were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

“We’re very lucky we didn’t have any other deaths.”

According to the Springfield News-Leader, it was actually five workers, not three, who were injured in the collapse. What’s more, the Springfield paper said that the fatally injured worker was “trapped” in the collapse, but did not elaborate further.

Neighbor Lee Brown, who lives just down the road from the tower, said the noise of the tower collapsing was like a “car crash magnified by 500.” It took so long for the tower to fall that the noise continued for several seconds.

As of this writing, it is unclear what caused the tower’s collapse.

It may have been in disrepair. According to a document obtained by the News-Leader, the tower’s operators were seeking bids to perform $775,000 worth of structural repairs to the tower.

The area around Fordland, about 35 miles east of Springfield, is a prime location for TV towers. The peaks of the nearby Ozark Mountains are about 1,600 feet above sea level and 300 feet in elevation above Springfield, making it a desirable spot for broadcasters to reach a wide area.

One such TV tower in the Fordland area was brought down by ice 17 years ago, according to a companion report in the News-Leader. Back in 2001, the tower collapsed on itself, as it had been designed to do. However, it did manage to tip slightly in its fall, knocking out power lines in the process. No one was injured in that incident, but the loss of power did inconvenience several nearby residents who found themselves without power for a few hours.

However, ice is unlikely to have played a role in Thursday’s collapse as temperatures in Springfield this past week have stayed mostly above freezing, and there’s been little precipitation in the area, according to Weather Underground.