PHONE SERVICE RESTORED TO UPCOUNTRY MAUI FOLLOWING FIREY CRASH

Phone service to thousands of residents and business in Upcountry, Haiku and Paia, Maui was restored by 4 o’clock this afternoon (Sunday, May 24, 3009).

The outage was sparked by a fire that started when a vehicle hit a propane tank on Lower Kula Road yesterday afternoon, igniting a house fire and resulting in damages to Hawaiian Telcom’s fiber optic cables. Telephone customers in Haiku and Paia as well as those in the upcountry areas of Kula, Makawao, Pukalani, and Haliimaile were affected by the incident. More than 200 telephone customers serviced by Sandwich Isle Communications in the Waiohuli Hawaiian Homes subdivision were also impacted.

“Our crews worked through the night and today to repair damaged lines and restore services to our customers as quickly as possible,” said Ann Nishida, spokesperson for Hawaiian Telcom. “Our customers are our priority and we’re proud of the extraordinary effort of our work crews,” she said.

During the incident, phone service was limited to only calls from phones located within the impacted areas. No 911 calls were possible in the affected areas, prompting the police department to staff police sub-stations in Makawao and Paia through the night and Sunday to accept 911 calls.

“Our police department provided a vital link to those who were left without the ability to call 911. By calling the police sub-stations in Makawao and Paia residents and businesses in these areas were able to call for police, fire and ambulance services if no cell phone was available,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

“I appreciate the Police Department’s work and the hard work of crews from Hawaiian Telcom and Sandwich Isle Communications to help our community as rapidly as they were able to considering the severity of the damage sustained by the fire,” said Tavares.

The vehicle accident that triggered the fire occurred a few minutes before 5:00 pm when a truck left the roadway and collided with a fence and hit a propane tank which then ignited. A nearby home, vacant at the time, also caught on fire.

According to police officials, the driver of the truck, a 38 year old Kula woman was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center with life threatening injuries as a result of the accident. The status of her condition was unavailable at the time of this report.

Details on the extent of the damage caused by the fire to the home are not yet available.

(Posted by Wendy Osher 2009; information courtesy: County of Maui, Office of the Mayor, Public Information Office)

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