Two cut cables sever phone service
911 emergency service lost in several counties in Wyoming
by Bob Rule, KPIN 101.1 FM Radio
August 1, 2006
(Pinedale) While most people living in Wyoming were focused on a telephone outage which affected most of the state, there was another outage going on in Boulder, Wyoming at the same time.
An apparently accidental cut in Cheyenne of a fiber optic telephone cable connecting to the Qwest long distance switching station in Cheyenne knocked out, or at least limited, long distance service in much of Wyoming Tuesday afternoon. In addition to long distance being impacted by this cable cut, 911 services in several Wyoming counties, including Natrona, Fremont, Washakie, and Park became non-functional.
Meanwhile, a completely separate and unrelated cut of a fiber optic telephone cable left the Sublette County community of Boulder, Wyoming with no telephone service at all.
The crew removing old sewer pipe and replacing it with new pipe in Pinedale inadvertently cut the underground fiber optic telephone cable which connects Pinedale and Boulder.
Wes Wilson, one of the owners of the company doing the work on the Pinedale sewer, said that he did indeed "call before he dug". The person marking underground utilities for him did not indicate that there was an underground telephone cable at the intersection of Tyler and Charles, where his company was digging. Not knowing the cable was there, Wilson’s company dug it up, and everyone in Boulder lost the ability to make and receive telephone calls.
Initially, there was confusion in Pinedale, since Pinedale’s long distance calls follow a route in the opposite direction, going from Pinedale to Daniel to Big Piney, and then on their way to the outside world via Kemmerer. But, with both cable cuts happening at approximately the same time, it was logical to blame the cable cut just south of Pinedale’s library for Pinedale’s loss of long distance service.
Cell phone service was intermittent at best, with so many of Pinedale’s citizens resorting to their cell phones when they were unable to place long distance calls from Pinedale on their regular telephones. Calls made between two cell phones served by the same cell phone company seemed to be the most likely calls to get through.
Local employees of Century-Tel in Pinedale immediately responded immediately to the cable cut, setting up two folding tables on opposite sides of Tyler Avenue, with a team at each table splicing in a telephone cable jumper to hook the two broken ends together. Around 8 PM on Tuesday night, they finished their work, and Boulder had its telephone service restored.
But, Boulder, and almost all the other cities and towns in Wyoming, could not make long distance calls until around 9 PM, when it appeared that Qwest completed repairs to their severed telephone cable in Cheyenne.
Mike, the local manager of Century-Tel in Pinedale, commented that in all of his years of telephone employment, he had never known of a situation when two cable cuts like this had occurred on the same day in two different cities.