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New York City TV station back on the air after studio fire

A fire filled Manhattan studios of WABC-TV with thick smoke and forced staff to evacuate. But on Monday morning the Channel was back on the air.

No one was injured in the fire that knocked out Channel 7's programming for a couple hours beginning a few minutes before the 11 p.m. newscast Sunday (0300 GMT Monday), leaving the station's viewers with nothing to look at except a black screen or color bars.

WABC-TV returned in time for a 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) newscast Monday morning, with the two morning anchors sitting at a cramped desk in what looked like an office. They said it was a "rough night."

The station took viewers of its early morning newscast backstage of the main studio on the first floor where the fire began, showing charred debris. They said there was water and smoke damage.

Kenny Plotnik, the station's news director, said that the blaze started when one of the lights in the first-floor studio burst and a curtain caught fire. A spokesman for the New York Fire Department said the cause remained under investigation.

Plotnik said the fire was put out quickly, but that it sent smoke throughout the building, forcing about 50 staff members to evacuate.

Sprinklers were activated and smoke inundated the building, a fire official said.

The national ABC network has offices in the adjoining building, which was also evacuated but not affected by the fire, Jay Jonas, a deputy fire chief at the scene, told The New York Times.