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California Camp Fire Threatens Fiber Optics

California Camp Fire Threatens Fiber Optics

By GeoTel Communications 

Labeled the “most destructive fire in California history,” the California Camp Fire has destroyed thousands of lives, homes, and acres of wildlife. Buried beneath the flames, the areas fiber optic cables are the latest item affected.


Unlike so many other connectors on the market, fiber optic cables stand alone for their ability to create high levels of internet connectivity without the threat of fire or the need for.  EMI or electromagnetic interference refers to the currents produced by other cables such as copper that can interfere with other connections. Fiber optic cables maneuver the light without requiring an electrical current, which has allowed for the cables to survive harsh conditions safely buried under the soil.

However, the recent California Camp Fire created an unplanned scenario that has resulted in the loss of fiber optics to many who rely on it. Specifically, in Ventura County, the fiber optic cables powered by Spectrum were damaged by the flames. A spokeswoman for Spectrum told the VC Star that, “Our technicians will be working to restore service as soon as it is safe to do so, and we get approval from the fire department to go into those areas. We are repairing fiber where we have been given access and crews are restoring services.”

In an effort to make connectivity possible, some providers are switching connectivity for their customers from fiber optics to As thousands of citizens rely on social media and other internet-powered mediums as a means for public safety, being able to connect and alert authorities of one’s location can be instrumental to their chance of survival. At this time, the Camp Fire has already ravaged 117,000 acres, so it is instrumental that aid and rescue works are able to rely heavily on the ability to connect to survivors, which makes the need for fiber optic connectivity in the area stronger than ever.

Fiber optics are needed for more than rescue though, as citizens rely on messages via phone for evacuations and guidelines as to where to go. Nixle, a national system created to alert the public in these emergency situations relies on internet connectivity to send messages to those in threatened areas. As rescue and aid workers begin to tackle the area engulfed by the Camp Fire, fiber optic providers are waiting for notice from authorities that they are allowed to begin repairs of their own.

Valerie Stephen