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Cable fire affects communications on Oahu and Kauai

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 4:57 p.m. HST, Jan 15, 2013

Oceanic and Hawaiian Telcom crews are working to restore services by 8 p.m. "at the earliest," after a fire under the airport viaduct damaged fiber optic cables overnight, causing widespread telephone, internet and cable television outages, an official said.

A homeless man was hospitalized with burns to his face and arms following the rubbish fire that was extinguished by four fire companies about 2:31 a.m. The fire, on Nimitz Highway near Kilihau Street, was reported just before midnight.

The cable carries data for both Hawaiian Telcom and Oceanic Time Warner customers as well as some Sprint mobile phone customers. 

Oceanic said about 15,000 customers lost some of their channels on digital cable until about noon today. Customers are also still experiencing Internet and phone difficulties, such as slow browsing and intermittent fast-busy phone signals.

Hawaiian Tel did not have an estimate of how many customers were affected.

But the break is causing “significant” impact on all of Hawaiian Telcom’s services, primarily in West Oahu, but also possibly on other islands, said Ann Nishida Fry, senior manager of corporate communications.

The Kauai Police Department said they are experiencing intermittent phone outages due to a technical issue with their service provider, Hawaiian Telcom. The department asks that Kauai residents limit 911 calls to emergencies only until the issue is resolved.

“We don’t have a good handle on a customer number at this point,” Fry said, as the utility is “channeling all resources” toward assembling the equipment and manpower needed to repair the cut cable, as well as rerouting telephone, Internet and television service to other, functioning circuits.

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