A damaged fiber-optic cable in the Bitterroot Valley cut off landline, cellphone and internet service throughout the area for several hours Tuesday [Dec. 11], including 911 emergency service. John Bemis, a spokesman for CenturyLink, said he has been notified that a fiber-optic cable was accidentally cut near Stevensville on Tuesday around noon.
"It was cut by a third party," he said. "We do have crews dispatched to repair it."
Service began to return shortly after 2 p.m. Bemis said it was too early to tell how many customers were affected. Ravalli County Emergency Management Director Erik Hoover said the disruption in service temporarily shut down the county's 911 service. Some CenturyLink landlines would have been able to access emergency service through an emergency routing service that was recently completed.
"We finished that update over the last couple of months," Hoover said. Hoover said those emergency calls would have gone to fire stations, which were manned during the outage. The new system does not work with cell phones.
The county also used the National Weather Service to let county residents know the county's 911 service was down and that they should respond to local fire stations in case of an emergency. "We do what we can to reach people," Hoover said. "People don't listen to the radio or watch TV like they used to. Now they're all on You Tube. A lot of people don't have landlines either. It creates a real challenge."Read more at Montana Post Standard