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Phone Service Finally Restored to Those Disconnected by Fire

February 26, 1988|BONNIE HEALD | Times Staff Writer

Telephone service and communication systems have been restored for 10,000 Orange County residents and businesses that have been without telephones since Monday, Pacific Bell officials said Thursday.

Occasional problems may persist, but those difficulties can be repaired within a few hours, said officials for the utility.

Monday's outage was caused by a fire under a 60-year-old Santa Ana bridge, where 18 of 40 major Pacific Bell telephone cables were damaged, cutting telephone links in many parts of Orange County and affecting communications in some cities as far away as Sydney, Australia.

'Sizable' Problem

"The problem was sizable," said Burlington Air Express director Terry Marsh. The air cargo company, which has offices in Irvine, lost communication with 80 of its 200 domestic and international locations, Marsh said.

The Irvine office was unable to communicate with many areas in the Pacific Northwest, and cities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia and Sydney, Marsh said. But communications to New York City and Chicago were unaffected by the broken lines.

Marsh said the company had begun work on a $225,000 backup communications system several weeks ago. The new system would provide an alternative means of communications, such as microwave transmissions.

A major portion of Burlington's existing system is connected through 17 of the 18 cables that were damaged by the fire, which started under the Main Street bridge spanning Santiago Creek Canyon in Santa Ana. The telephone company's network of cables ran along the underside of the bridge, protected only by a sheath of plastic piping.

What the company has learned, Marsh said, is that "you don't run everything through the same system."

Although telephone service has been restored, Pacific Bell spokeswoman Linda Bonniksen said there may still be occasional problems.

Because the lines were not color-coded, some may have been transposed when they were being spliced together, she said. Customers should notify the company's repair office if they are experiencing telephone problems, she said.

Crews will remain on the site to finish work on protective shields around the repaired cables, she said, adding that the estimated cost of repairs is about $1 million.

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