Frontier fire knocks out communications
On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 21 the Frontier Communications building on Main Street in Susanville were without communications for several hours in Lassen County.
Susanville Fire Department battalion chief Ted Friedline said the official cause of the fire was a small electric fan that shorted out and caused nearby items to catch fire.
Beasly said that because Ward knew the layout of the building, he was able advise against the soaking of the entire central office, knowing what kind of damage a large dose of water could do the equipment within the building. Beasly said he was able to lead firefighters through the building, looking for the fire with heat sensing equipment. With only 20 gallons of water, firefighters were able to put out the fire. Ward said in reality, it was more like 10-15 gallons.
The fire caused heavy smoke damage to the first floor of the building, with light smoke damage to the second floor. Some electronic cards and cables were also damaged in the fire.
Beasly said because of Ward’s efforts, the fire had a minimal impact on much of the buildings equipment and machinery. She said that was one of the main reasons why many of the services at the building were able to resume quickly.
While some of Frontier’s remote facilities took longer to connect back to the building, everything was completely restored within a couple days. None of the hard lines connected to the building were damaged. Ward said that because much of the equipment in the building was backed up by battery power, a lot of it was still powered on.
“I really have to commend that first crew that entered the building,” Ward said. “They were smart enough to know not to start spraying water everywhere. If someone had started spraying water with all that electrical still up and running, who knows, someone might have gotten killed.”
Ward said the Internet was the hardest thing to get back up and running at the building. He said the building is a hub that provides services to customers all over both Lassen and Plumas County. Equipment came from other Frontier offices in Northern California, including offices in Palo Cedro, Alturas and Elk Grove so that the system could be restored.
Ward explained that one of the benefits from the fire is that he is going to help coordinate a training session with several local fire agencies in order to be better prepared for close quarter, electrical commercial building fires.
He said that as a result of the fire, transmission technicians have already conducted a pre-planning train session at the Palo Cedro Frontier office, coordinated with the Palo Cedro Fire Department and firefighters with the California Department of forestry and Fire Protection.
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