Radio Station Fire Ruled Arson

An eastern Kentucky radio station, Pineville's WANO, was silenced by an arson fire that destroyed its transmitter, according to owner Josh Wilkey.

"It was most certainly arson," Wilkey said of the blaze at 9:21 p.m. EDT Sunday at the station's transmitter building in Pineville, ten miles north of here.

"I got the call that the back door had been breached and by the time I got to Pineville from Middlesboro, the fire department was there putting the fire out," Wilkey said.

He was led through the building by fire officials and shown evidence that the fire was intentionally set.

"It was very obvious where someone had poured kerosene on the
carpet and that portion of the carpet had burned, but the area around it was intact," Wilkey said. "It was such a fire that the building was a complete loss."

The transmitter was operating when firefighters arrived and it appeared the station's loss would not include its main piece of
equipment, Wilkey said.

"After we had been there an hour the roof caught on fire and the water damage and second fire is what got the transmitter," Wilkey said.

The building had been broken into two weeks earlier, Wilkey said, but he rejected any idea that someone might have had a personal vendetta against the station.

"Two and a half years ago, before I bought the station, somebody fire bombed the front," Wilkey said. That person was tried and convicted for what Wilkey said was "a prank."

WANO Radio celebrated 50 years on the air Friday.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)