Phone service disrupted across swath of northwest Sonoma County
Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.
Landline telephone service was disrupted due to suspected copper cable theft Friday in a large swath of northwestern Sonoma County, officials reported.
The fiber-optic cable that serves phone customers in the Jenner, Sea Ranch and Timber Cove areas was disrupted before 8 a.m. in the vicinity of Monte Rio.
AT&T and Verizon responded to the scene for repairs, said Zachary Hamill, emergency coordinator for the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department.
Service was fully restored at 9:40 p.m., according to Dan Newman, an AT&T spokesman.
The phone company was cooperating with law enforcement on the suspected cable theft, he said.
The disruption meant residents of the area could call between themselves, but could not call outside of the affected exchanges, including to reach emergency 911 service.
The county implemented an emergency plan in which local fire stations increased staff to handle walk-in traffic or respond to direct phone calls from neighbors, he said. It also activated a network of amateur radio operators to transmit emergencies and placed signs on major roadways alerting residents to the outage.
Cellphone and Internet service apparently were not affected.
John Lester, founder of Black Mountain Communications, said he has about 150 broadband Internet customers in the area and they lost service around 8 p.m. Thursday. He switched to a backup microwave service, which restored Internet service and allowed residents to make calls using online services such as Skype.
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