Mobile phone mast destroyed by fire amid 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory

Police are investigating after a mobile phone mast next to a block of flats in Huddersfield caught fire.

Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 10:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 10:32 am

The fire destroyed communications equipment belonging to three mobile network providers, one of which is used by the emergency services.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said they were called to the fire at Fearnley Mill at 1.38am on Monday morning.

Six fire engines were needed to tackle the blaze.

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The mobile phone mast was destroyed by fire (photo: @WYFRSFireInvest / Twitter)

WYFRS fire investigators said on social media that it posed "a significant fire that posed risk to occupants of 37 flats in the four storey building."

It comes as three mobile phone mast fires around the UK are being investigated as possible arson, amid concerns that people are attacking telecoms infrastructure because of a bogus conspiracy theory linking 5G technology to the spread of coronavirus.

There have been fires at masts in Birmingham, Liverpool and Melling in Merseyside.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said the conspiracy theory is "dangerous nonsense".

The mobile phone mast in Huddersfield (photo: @WYFRSFireInvest / Twitter).

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said on Twitter "there is absolutely no credible evidence" of a link, while trade body Mobile UK said such rumours and conspiracy theories were "concerning".

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "Police were called at 1.52am this morning (14/04) to reports of a phone mast on fire, attached to a chimney on Lower Quarry Road in Huddersfield.

"The building was safely evacuated and police are currently working with the fire services to determine the nature of the incident."

Independent fact checking charity Full Fact has said that claims 5G WiFi networks could be responsible for the rapid spread of the new coronavirus are "not true".

And NHS Director Stephen Powis said at the Downing Street press conference earlier this month that 5G infrastructure is critical both to the general population who are being asked to stay at home and to the healthcare response to the virus.

"I'm absolutely outraged and disgusted that people would be taking action against the infrastructure we need to tackle this emergency," he said.