• Thousands in San Juans unable to call 911

    By: Lee Stoll

    Updated:

    SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. - Thousands of people in the San Juan Islands are still unable to call 911 after a massive line failure.

    Service is out to Lopez, Shaw, Orcas -- every island except San Juan Island.

    Call 911 form Fritz Baesman's home on Lopez Island and all you get is a busy signal.

    "There you have it," he said.

    Fire officials were alerted Tuesday morning that a CenturyLink fiber optic line submerged between San Juan and Orcas Islands was cut. About 9,000 people cannot call in or out on a landline. The Baesmans have to use their computer to contact their children long distance.

    "The challenge for us is we don't know how long this is going to go on and we're not getting that information," said Lopez Island Fire Chief Jim Ghigliome.

    People are being asked to go door to door to check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or living alone.

    Signs are posted on schools, coffee shops and libraries telling people to call local fire stations directly if they have an emergency. But calling by cellphone won't work.

    "A cellphone calling a landline phone has to access CenturyLink's system" said Ghigliome. "If you're on the island you have to call from a landline to a landline."

    Lopez Island firefighters are sleeping on the station floor, manning the office phone around the clock.

    "We are the emergency dispatch right now." said Ghigliome.

    CenturyLink said they are sending divers out to figure out how the line was cut. They do not know how long it will take to restore service.


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