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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 19) -- tighter 'n' tighter at 10 p.m., electrical fire included

A fire knocked out NBC5's late night lineup Thursday. nbcdfw photo

Oarsmen/women are rowing ever more furiously in the bowels of the big Ben-Hur boats.

The headmasters are cracking their whips, demanding suck-you-in stories, killer promos, hooks, lines, sinkers -- whatever it takes.

Or at least it's pretty to think so.

WFAA8 overcame another big lead-in disadvantage Thursday night, edging CBS11 at 10 p.m. to throw the November "sweeps" ratings race into over-drive with just four weeknights remaining before everyone towels off. The two Big Tunas are locked in a virtual dead heat, with WFAA8 the reigning champ and CBS11 striving to win at 10 p.m. in total viewers for the first time ever.

CBS11 had slowed WFAA8's backstretch momentum with a morale-boosting win Wednesday night. WFAA8 hit back Thursday by overcoming CBS11's audience windfall from The Mentalist.

WFAA8 ended up totaling 278,238 D-FW viewers at 10 p.m., up from the 190,016 who watched the 9:45 to 10 p.m. close of ABC's Private Practice. CBS11's runner-up 10 p.m. newscast had 251,093 viewers, down from the 366,460 inherited from The Mentalist.

WFAA8 also prevailed at 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. That race remains close, too, although front-running WFAA8 has a little more breathing room in this key demographic.

Where were Fox4 and NBC5? Their 10 p.m. newscasts basically were lapped three times by both WFAA8 and CBS11. In the total viewers measurement, Fox4 ran third with 81,436 viewers while the Peacock recorded one of its all-time lows -- 54,280 viewers.

Something's very weird about these numbers, though. Nielsen shows NBC's Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon registering "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) from 10:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. And yes, there's a definite explanation for that.

NBC5's nbcdfw.com website reports that an electrical fire in the station's main Fort Worth building forced an evacuation at about 10:10 p.m. Thursday.

The fire, in the station's electrical room, was put out at about 11:30 p.m., the account says. "By 2 a.m., most systems had returned to normal operation."

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is still unknown, NBC5 says.

In other local news derby results, NBC5 ran the table at 6 a.m., where it still holds a narrow lead over Fox4. But on Thursday, WFAA8 tied Fox4 for second in both ratings measurements.

WFAA8 again swept the 6 p.m. ratings, where it's firmly in control. The 5 p.m. race remains close, through, with NBC5 and WFAA8 tying for first in total viewers Thursday while the Peacock won comfortably among 25-to-54-year-olds.