Phones throughout Pasco were silenced for roughly six hours Wednesday after a contractor inadvertently cut a fiber-optic cable near Connell.
About 8,900 CenturyLink customers lost phone and internet service at roughly 11 a.m. throughout Pasco and several other Eastern Washington communities.
Cellphone service to some Verizon and AT&T customers was affected. About 5,500 customers in and around Walla Walla lost internet.
Additional intermittent outages were reported in Yakima, Starbuck and Royal City.
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Service was restored by 5 p.m.
The Pasco School District, city of Pasco and Franklin County phone systems were among those shut down during the outage. Across the river, the Kennewick School District reported phone trouble.
911 service was affected in some areas. But the Franklin County dispatch center — which handles 911 calls throughout the county — has a backup system and remained operational, said Keith Johnson, Franklin County administrator.
While the outage didn’t stop the county from receiving 911 calls, people may not have been able to use their phones to call for help.
Dispatchers weren’t able to make calls from the center for other services, such as tow trucks.
People trying to make payments or contact the county became frustrated, Johnson said.
“For example, our treasurer’s office is not able to accept credit card payments right now,” Johnson said. “A number of people have been trying to contact county departments and agencies and have been unable to get through.”
The lack of internet service at the county meant officials couldn’t communicate that the phone outage occurred. City employee cellphones were silent as well.
“I recognize the level of frustration to those members of the public who would like to do business with the county,” he said.
People couldn’t make utility payments over the phone, but the rest of the city of Pasco’s services weren’t affected, said Jon Funfar, the communications program manager.
Pasco’s communications manager, Shane Edinger, said the outage stopped people from contacting their local schools.