Clewiston utility work knocks out 911 service in Tampa area

Utilities work being done as part of a road construction project on State Road 80 near Clewiston interrupted emergency 911 service for a time on Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, more than 150 miles away.

Century Link workers were moving cables to accommodate the road widening project and inadvertently knocked out Frontier Communications’ services that connect residents of the two counties on Florida’s Gulf Coast to their emergency operators. According to a Tampa Bay Times report, Tampa and St. Petersburg police said the issue was with Frontier, which blamed the problem on the CenturyLink work disrupting computer links.

Emergency calls throughout the Tampa Bay region were affected, first for 90 minutes around midnight and again for another hour and a half in the late morning on Wednesday, the Times reported. Callers who dialed 911 in Hillsborough were hearing only a busy signal, so Tampa police and sheriff’s officials alerted the public to call non-emergency numbers via Twitter and through text messages, robocalls and media releases. Pinellas callers may have had problems reaching 911 operators, so officials advised the public there to use a backup number.

Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty said officials weren’t aware of any major incidents that occurred because of the 911 system failure, according to the Times.

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