Evacuations ordered after Sanford cellphone tower ignites

Cause of fire unknown, Seminole County Fire says

SANFORD, Fla. – A cellphone tower that ignited Wednesday in Sanford is no longer expected to collapse, according to the company that owns it, but fire crews kept streets in the area blocked off just in case.

[PHOTOS: Cellphone tower ignites in Sanford]

The Seminole County Fire Department says the tower, located on 700 Historic Goldsboro Boulevard, was being welded by 5 employees when the fire broke out.

It's not known what sparked the blaze, although Sanford Fire Department spokesman Tim Robles termed the incident as an accident, saying no foul play is suspected.

(Note: Get updates below via Twitter from Local 6 reporter Erik Sandoval.)

No one was injured, but one worker had to rappel down the tower after his basket got stuck on one of the pegs used to climb it after the fire broke out.

"The guy was half way down in the basket, and the basket got stuck," said Vincent Giardi, who watched as the fire burned.  "He got out of there, climbed the ropes and got down."

Power had been shut down in the area over fears the tower could topple power lines, but it was later restored.

Still, crews watched and waited to see if the tower would buckle after extremely hot temperatures caused it to lean.

An engineer declared the tower was "safe" after a rainstorm helped cool the hot metal, stabilizing it.

A crane was brought in from St. Petersburg to remove the worker's basket, which was held onto the tower by a peg, Robles said.

The tower may also be dismantled by crews, Robles said, possibly by tomorrow.

Authorities shut down U.S. Highway 17-92 in the area for hours.  It was reopened around 4 p.m.

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