Dangerous light towers found in North Texas parks

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by By JONATHAN BETZ / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on September 6, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 5:51 PM

Tower Danger

Jonathan Betz reports

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DALLAS - Dangerous and cracked lighting towers are looming over stadiums from Argyle to Waxahachie. Dozens of cities are carefully checking the poles at their ball fields and parks.

It's part of an investigation into problem poles distributed by a former North Texas company.

The towers aren't just found at high school stadiums, but also at dozens of city parks spread across North Texas.

On their weekly visits to Cummings Park in Dallas, the Babers never dreamed of a looming danger overhead.

That's exactly what's been happening across the country - large stadium and park light poles are collapsing unexpectedly. Another toppled Thursday in Virginia.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission released the first comprehensive list of all the parks with the poles in question, revealing 34 stadiums and city parks across North Texas with poles made by Whitco, the now defunct Fort Worth manufacturer.

The alert prompted cities like Cedar Hill to re-inspect its poles at Dot Thomas Park for hairline cracks.

"What we've seen happening in other locations, it would be catastrophic if one of these poles came down," said Cedar HIll spokesman Corky Brown. "We want to make sure that doesn't happen in our city."

Since 2000, at least nine of the galvanized steel towers have fallen.

No one has been injured, but they have crashed onto school gymnasiums and stadium bleachers.

While some cities and school districts decided to remove the poles from stadiums, others are relying on inspections, assured they're safe.

"I feel they've already been put on notice, that they're damaged, so why not just install new poles with the new metal?" asked Chaenequa Babers.

The government is only recommending replacement of the poles if inspectors find problems.

Still, the risk is serious. Officials dread what would happen if a four-ton pole collapsed during a game onto a stadium filled with fans.

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