Devastating wildfires in northern California have affected telephone, Internet, and cable services in the region. Cell sites, electric service, and utility poles have been affected in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Solano, Sonoma, and Yuba counties. The California Office of Emergency Services said this week that so far 77 cell sites had been damaged or destroyed by the fires, and a key cellular hub was damaged. Repairs have been made to about 35 of the sites.
In addition, Gov. Jerry Brown (D.) said earlier this week that the fire had destroyed utility poles causing the loss of power to more than 38,000 residents. Fires have “destroyed and continue to threaten critical infrastructure, including 80 communication towers, impacting services for thousands of people,” according to the governor’s office. The governor has issued emergency proclamations for nine counties due to the effects of multiple fires causing “damage to critical infrastructure, threatening homes, and causing the evacuation of residents.”
AT&T said it had deployed a “network disaster recovery team” and mobile cell sites that link to AT&T’s network via satellite in the areas of Santa Rosa, Willits, and the Napa Town & Country Fairgrounds in Napa. The company, however, did not comment on how many customers are affected by the outage.
“Our highest priority is to ensure that our customers have the necessary resources to communicate with their loved ones and emergency services and access important information during these difficult times,” said Ken McNeely, president of AT&T California. “Our teams are working closely with first responders to get our service up as quickly and safely as possible.”
AT&T also said it was staging and refueling more generators and had deployed an emergency communications vehicle to Santa Rosa.
Comcast Corp., meanwhile, said today that it has about 20,000 residential customers experiencing service disruptions, across video, Internet, and voice. A Comcast spokeswoman said there are about 1,000 commercial and business customers experiencing service disruptions, adding that “these numbers are significantly smaller than when the crisis first started.”
The impacted customers are primarily in Santa Rosa, Comcast said. The spokeswoman said that “we are working around the clock and in close collaboration with the office of emergency services, CalFire and other utility providers (since some of our service outages are caused by power outages) to repair our facilities and get as many customers back up and running as fast as humanly possible … while remaining safe and supportive of emergency responders, fire/police and others monitoring safety.”
Comcast is also offering Wi-Fi hotspots to help residents and emergency personnel stay connected throughout the Napa and Sonoma County areas. –Carrie DeLeon, firstname.lastname@example.org