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Fire Damage : Repair Work on Telephones Almost Over

February 25, 1988|BONNIE HEALD | Times Staff Writer

The last telephone users still without service because of a fire Monday should have it restored today, Pacific Bell officials said Wednesday.

About 5,000 customers in Orange County were still without service Wednesday in the aftermath of the fire.

The blaze, which began under the Main Street bridge that spans Santiago Canyon in Santa Ana, destroyed 8 telephone cables and damaged at least 10 more, Pacific Bell officials said. About 11,000 customers from Santa Ana to Irvine and Laguna Hills, including those with computerized communication systems, were affected, said Craig MacDonald, Pacific Bell spokesman.

Crews were working around the clock Wednesday to repair the cable but, MacDonald said, "there is no magic way to do it quickly."

Most of the damage was repaired by Wednesday, but technicians still had to match thousands of new and old cable wires by hand.

Some other cables may be smoldering, and that could cause additional loss of service, MacDonald said. Still, the company hoped to have all service restored by today, he said.

The cables under the Main Street bridge, which was built around 1920, hung against the underside of the structure, MacDonald said. The cables were protected by a thick, pipelike plastic structure.

This method of attaching cables to bridges is common, said Charles Pettit, Pacific Bell construction manager. Since 1974, however, bridges have been built so that the cables are housed within the support structure of the bridge, officials said.

Santa Ana Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Skelly said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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